By editor - 10 September, 2014
Ruhama, the national organisation supporting women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking, has welcomed the launch of a Bill, to address the serious issue of child grooming, by Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.
In a statement, Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama said, “As a frontline service, we are all too aware of the reality of child grooming.”
She explained that some of the women Ruhama works with would have been drawn into prostitution and trafficked as minors.
“In some cases, we work directly with minors, in collaboration with child welfare professionals. We encounter grooming as a key factor in many of these cases.”
She explained that perpetrators can range from strangers building up relationships with young people, to their own family members abusing positions of trust.
“Grooming has been something Ireland has lacked the legislative mechanisms required to deal with up until now,” Sarah Benson said.
“We are deeply concerned that children in particularly vulnerable situations, such as those in the residential care system in this country, can be targets of individuals and groups who seek to sexually exploit young people.”
She added, “Grooming is a particularly insidious and manipulative mechanism used to gain trust of children and then grossly exploit them. This Bill will fill a legislative gap and support greater prevention work which is needed urgently to protect vulnerable youth.”
The Ruhama CEO said the organisation hoped that the Bill will be just one of a number of legislative measures that are currently recommended to update Irish sexual offences legislation; including criminalising the sex buyer.
“The demand for paid sex fuels child trafficking and funds organised crime,” she warned.