By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 February, 2016
Ruhama, the non-governmental organisation working to support women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking, has congratulated the outgoing Government for the excellent progress made in its lifetime to bring forward the Sexual Offences Bill.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ruhama said the landmark Bill has enjoyed massive public and unprecedented cross-party support since its launch.
“With measures to outlaw the purchase of sex, this legislation will make Ireland a far less lucrative target for domestic and international pimps and sex traffickers alike.”
With the general election slated 26 February, Ruhama is urging the next government to make this Bill an absolute priority and place it at the top of their agenda as soon as they come to power.
The Bill was approved by the Seanad and reached Second Stage in the Dáil just as the general election was being called, leaving minimal work needed to complete its passage into law, according to Ruhama.
The NGO’s CEO, Sarah Benson said on Wednesday, “Ireland cannot wait any longer to put an end to the demand for prostitution, which fuels a multi-million euro trade at the cost of vulnerable women and girls.”
She said that is why Ruhama is members of the public to make sex-trafficking a ‘doorstep issue’ by asking their local representatives to put the Sexual Offences Bill at the top of their post-election ‘to-do’ list.
“This legislation also creates vital legal protections for children who are groomed for exploitation by vicious adults, including through internet contact” according to Sarah Benson.
“Ruhama has worked with young people groomed into prostitution and it is incredibly important to close this legal loophole so that we don’t have to wait for unthinkable violations of children to actually occur before an abuser can be held to account.”
Ruhama backs this Bill as a core member of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, an alliance of over 70 civil society organisations, trade unions and NGOs.
The alliance has long advocated shutting down Ireland’s sex trade by criminalising sex buyers, while also ensuring that those in prostitution are not criminalised.
“The Bill is so close to completion” noted Sarah Benson “that all that is needed is one final push by our public representatives to finally ensure that it is no longer acceptable in this State to purchase sexual access to the body of another person.”