- Sex & Drugs
- 15 Mar 23
Despite the fact that there are no reliable figures on the number of sex workers in Ireland, the estimate is around 1000.
Following the conviction of the Kerry farmer John D. for assaulting two migrant sex workers in 2020, the coordinator of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI), Mardi Kennedy, stated: "The case today shows that the current sex work law in Ireland is failing on its own terms. The law did nothing to prevent the violent behaviour of this client. We commend these brave workers who came forward and ensured the prosecution of a predator."
Kennedy notices that this is quite unusual since "less than 1% of sex workers report crimes against them to the Gardaí, compared to 81% of the general population who have trust in Gardaí. How does this statistic not concern the Minister for Justice?"
Linda Kavanagh, communications manager of SWAI continues "In the wake of the change in the law in 2017, SWAI was the first point of contact for workers who were assaulted. As this case today proves, this spate of violence against sex workers has not abated."
According to Kavanagh, the sex workers in the assault case stated that they worked for themselves and were not exploited or coerced.
Press Release from @SWAIIreland : https://t.co/zFCBlAbgYx
— Amnesty Ireland (@AmnestyIreland) March 15, 2023
Since sex work is considered an economic activity, Kavanagh contends that everyone has the right to work safely.
"The criminalisation of the purchase of sex does nothing to address the economic needs of sex workers. In fact, what it has done is made sex workers less safe and pushed sex work underground and away from services that can support them," Kavanagh continued.
"The strategy of so-called End Demand has created a climate of hostility and scarcity which means that sex workers may feel the need to take on clients who they would normally refuse or engage in riskier behaviour. It empowers clients to demand sex with no condom, for example."
To guarantee safety, Kavanagh sees a decriminalisation of sex work as the only possibility. "We must decriminalise sex work so that workers can work together for safety. We demand the Gardaí, the Department of Justice and supporters of the law listen to sex workers about what they need. They have the power to right these wrongs."