Ireland joins list of European countries in criminalising purchase of sex

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Ireland is joining a growing list of European countries criminalising the purchase of sex, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told an event in Dublin City Hall.

Ms Fitzgerald marked International Women’s Day by speaking at an event hosted by Turn Off The Red Light (TORL), which campaigns to criminalise the purchase of sex.

She said: “I am absolutely convinced and committed to the approach which has been adopted and enacted and which will see the purchase of sexual services in the context of prostitution criminalised.

“I am even more so, when you consider how similar laws in other jurisdictions have been found to make those countries less attractive for prostitution based human trafficking.

“I also believe that support for targeting the demand for prostitution and criminalising the purchase of sexual services – in particular as a tool to combat trafficking – is strengthening across the EU and further afield.”

Ms Fitzgerald said there would be people selling sex regardless of “the various approaches which can be taken to prostitution – be it criminalisation, decriminalisation, legalisation and regulation”.

But she said the new laws would “send a message” that buyers of sex are responsible for “the exploitation of persons through prostitution”.

She added: “I am very pleased that when these provisions are commenced – which will be very shortly – and in line with the growing support for this type of reform, Ireland will be the seventh jurisdiction to introduce laws targeting the purchase while decriminalising those who provide the sexual service.

“These laws will also ensure that both parts of this island share the determination to tackle the abuse associated with prostitution.”