By Ann Marie Foley - 23 April, 2015
Tom Meagher, husband of the late Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne two years ago, spoke out about the dangers of prostitution yesterday (Tuesday 22 April).
Speaking at the launch of a new campaign, he asked men and boys to make a stand against prostitution and sex trafficking.
“Two years ago I read this document from an interview with a man who had repeatedly and very violently raped a number of prostitutes in Australia. His answer to the question, ‘Why did you do this?’ was ‘I paid for her, I can do what I want with her.’ Ten years later that man was out on parole and raped and murdered my wife.”
‘Prostitution -We Don’t Buy It’ is the first all-island campaign asking men and boys to make a stand against prostitution and sex trafficking.
To coincide with the launch of the campaign the findings of a Red C poll were released.
The poll focuses on attitudes and behaviours among Irish men and women on the purchase of sex, and found that three out of four adults believe that women who sell sex have experienced some form of abuse from sex buyers.
More than seven out of ten people indicated that they believed the majority of women are drawn into prostitution by difficult circumstances such as poverty or other vulnerabilities.
This poll includes views of ordinary members of the public whereas other polls have focused on the views of the minority who do purchase sex.
The poll found that at 88% the majority of Irish men have never bought sex; just 8% say they have, but not regularly, with 4% not responding.
“Most Irish men never have and never will purchase sex,” said Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama, one of the main campaign partners.
“It is asking them – the majority – to make a stand against a trade that exploits women and girls, and which results in profits for criminal gangs.”
She explained that this independent survey indicates that that Irish people believe that the sex trade in Ireland is nearly all organised with the majority of women linked to pimps and traffickers.
She added, “The ‘We Don’t Buy It’ campaign articulates this majority view by saying we don’t buy sex and we don’t buy the lies that allow it to continue. The poll also indicates that most people have concerns about abuse in the sex industry. The reality is that most sex buyers cannot be sure that the person they are buying sex from has not been coerced or trafficked.”
Justice Ministers Frances Fitzgerald TD and David Ford MLA spoke at the launch.
In Northern Ireland new legislation outlaws the purchase of sex.
The General Scheme of legislation which creates offences of purchasing sexual services in the context of prostitution and trafficking was published in the Republic of Ireland last November.
Minister Fitzgerald appealed to Irish men to start a public conversation on the wrongs of prostitution.
“Public education and awareness play a vital role in reducing the demand for the services of victims of trafficking. We all have a role to play and that is the aim of this very striking campaign,” the Minster stated.
In his address, Minister David Ford said, “Human trafficking is a detestable crime, which dehumanises its victims and destroys lives. Those who traffic do not see their victims as fellow humans, rather as mere commodities, and over time they can succeed in removing a victim’s self-worth and identity completely.
He added that if people are more aware of the signs and indicators that someone may have been trafficked they will be better placed to help law enforcement and support organisations to discover and support potential victims.
‘We Don’t Buy It’ is part of The REACH Project which is funded by the European Commission.
It aims to raise awareness of trafficking as a form of violence against women and girls.
Key partners in the REACH Project are the Irish Department of Justice and Equality, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice as well as NGOs Ruhama and Women’s Aid Northern Ireland.
We Don’t Buy It is also supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (all-island) and the Union of Students of Ireland.
The Red C poll is a survey of 1,033 adults over 18, conducted on-line between March 13th and 18th 2015.