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Ruhama welcomes prostitution legislation vote

By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 February, 2014

Ruhama logoRuhama, the Irish NGO which supports women affected by prostitution and trafficking, has welcomed the vote by the European Parliament in favour of a resolution criminalising the purchase of sex.

The Dublin-based organisation said the resolution, which is aimed at reducing the sexual exploitation of women, men and girls in the sex trade, sent out a Europe-wide call for the criminalisation of sex buyers in an effort to reduce prostitution and sex trafficking.  

Last month the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee voted through a report put forward by Labour MEP for London, Mary Honeyball, which recommended the adoption of the ‘Nordic Model’ of prostitution legislation and on Wednesday the European Parliament voted in favour of this resolution.

Responding to the vote, Ruhama CEO, Sarah Benson said, “In passing this resolution, the European Parliament is acknowledging the intrinsic link between prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.”

She said it also acknowledged that the most effective way to combat this crime is to “focus on the demand of the sex buyer which drives the market for criminal gangs.”

“As a frontline service working directly with those affected by prostitution in Ireland, we welcome the agreement within the European Parliament that the best way to combat sex trafficking is the so-called ‘Nordic model’, which criminalises sex buyers but not those in involved in prostitution,” she said.

The Ruhama CEO highlighted that there are different legislative approaches to prostitution across Europe and countries such as Germany which have legalised prostitution, are now re-thinking their approach because it has created a sex trade that is uncontrollable, with increased exploitation, including trafficking.

Sweden on the other hand, was the first country to introduce legislation which focuses on demand of the sex buyer. The results have been extremely positive in terms of a reduction in their overall sex trade and consequently a reduction in sex trafficking.

Sarah Benson thanked the Irish MEPs who voted for the resolution.

“Their support for this model of legislation puts further pressure on the Irish Government to act on the recommendations of the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s report on prostitution legislation which was published last year and which unanimously recommended the criminalising of the purchase of sexual services while decriminalising those in prostitution,” she commented.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, Gerardine Rowley, Communications & Policy Manager with Ruhama, urged the Irish Government to “bring our prostitution legislation in line with European policy.”

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