SWAI Press Release 16/9/2015 – Laura Lee

Cabinet approves Bill that will endanger the lives of sex workers –

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland is devastated by news that the Irish Government Cabinet approved the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill which seeks to criminalise the purchase sexual services in Ireland.

Couples hands interlocked on a bed
Couple Man and woman hand in sex relationship on bed.

Kate Mc Grew, Sex Worker and ICRSE (International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe) Board Member of said, “Criminalising people who buy sexual services is detrimental to our safety and puts us at increased risk of violence. The Cabinet has just approved a Bill that if passed will put our lives at risk. In effect they are sending a message that our rights and our safety are worthless and can be sacrificed”.

Ms. McGrew continued, “They have done this without any independent research into the impact of criminalisation or without any meaningful consultation with actual sex workers. We have repeatedly told the Minister for Justice and the Irish Government we sex workers do not want criminalisation, we want our human rights and safety protected. Why are they not listening to us?” The proposed legislation goes against international best practice and advice from expert organisations including Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation and UN AIDS, which advocate instead for a human rights based, harm reduction and decriminalization approach to law and policy surrounding sex work.

Catriona O’Brien, Sex Worker said, “How can we feel safe and protected from violence when the police, supposed to protect us, are keeping us under surveillance and forcing us to work alone. Criminalising the purchase of sexual services makes this worse. The Government’s proposed legislation will create an environment where will see more attacks and violence perpetrated against sex workers.”

Ms. O’Brien continued, “In August Amnesty International voted in favour of developing a decriminalisation policy on sex work. Does the Cabinet actually think they know more about the impact and effect of criminalisation on the rights of sex workers than Amnesty International and sex workers themselves? Let’s be clear this Bill does nothing to decriminalise workers. I can still be prosecuted for brothel keeping just for working with another person for safety. We refuse to be ignored. We are going to fight this all the way’.

Laura Lee

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