SWAI letter to Irish Deputies – Laura Lee

Dear Deputy,

As a TD and decision maker you play an essential role in ensuring Ireland’s laws protect our most vulnerable people. Please use your elected office to protect some of our most vulnerable women and oppose Section 20 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.

Beautiful woman having orgasm

Amnesty International, the WHO, Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, the Lancet medical journal, La Strada International, GAATW (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women) and Open Society Foundation all agree that criminalising the buyer of sex does not protect vulnerable people.

We need your help. You need to be our voice. We urge you to oppose Section 20 of this Bill.

Section 20 of this new Bill is a step backwards. If passed, it will hurt those we should be protecting most. It will force them to work in more dangerous and hidden environments away from Gardaí protection or support services. This Bill does not decriminalise people who sell sexual services in anyway. It will still be illegal for a woman to work with a friend for safety. A more vulnerable street worker will still be arrested for working on the street. This section is nothing but tokenism which will actually make things worse.

There is no proof that criminalisation makes people who consensually sell sexual services safer or reduces instances of trafficking for sexual exploitation, for which there is already legislation in Ireland under the Criminal Offences (Trafficking) Act 2008. In fact there is considerable evidence that criminalisation increases sex workers’ isolation, their exposure to violence, and damages their relationships with and access to both the police and support services.

In 2014 The Department of Justice in Northern Ireland commissioned research into sex work. The research report showed that 98% of sex workers surveyed did not want the buyers of sexual services to be criminalised for fear it would impact their safety and access to protection and services.

If you have any doubts about the impact of this section of the bill we urge you to contact us and support the removal of Section 20 in this Bill before it’s too late.

If you have any questions or want further information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Deputy please don’t stand by while Section 20 hurts some of the most vulnerable people in Ireland. Oppose section 20.

Laura Lee

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