Sex workers report increased attacks after law change

Sex worker organisations have said the criminalisation of the purchase of sex in Ireland has led to a sharp increase in attacks on sex workers, The Irish Times reports.

They cited research by Lucy Smyth, developer of the Ugly Mugs database, which allows sex workers to report dangerous clients..

Ugly Mugs received 1,635 reports from sex workers concerned about clients in the five months since the law was changed, a 61 per cent increase on the same period last year. Some 137 of these reported incidents involved violence, up from 79 in the same period last year.

Ms Smyth said: “Any sex worker working in Ireland currently is almost certainly going to know about the many violent attacks there have been. Even publicly on Twitter a sex worker was telling us a couple of days ago that she is leaving due to the increase in violence.”

A spokesperson for Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) said: “Sex workers have always disproportionately experienced more violence and abuse than other people in society due to stigma, but we have seen a marked increase since the law changed in March of this year.”

Sex worker activist Laura Lee added: “We warned Frances Fitzgerald at the time that this would happen.”

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was concerned “at reports of any physical violence against any person”.

However, he added that the law’s aim to reduce demand for sex work would reduce instances of trafficking and exploitation.