News & Media

Bacik endorses findings of new report on Exploitation in the Sex Trade

20 November 2020

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
Ivana Bacik

Commenting on the study published yesterday by the Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP) at UCD, commissioned by the Department of Justice, which recommends continued enforcement of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 (the ban on sex purchase).

Senator Ivana Bacik, Labour spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, issued a strong endorsement for the report’s recommendations, and urged the Gardai to continue their efforts in targeting sex buyers and tackling demand for prostitution. 

Senator Bacik said: 

"The findings in this important and valuable study are drawn from a range of sources, including  the service user records of a sample of 144 women who accessed HSE services between 2015 and 2018. They provide an alarming insight into the reality of the sex industry in Ireland, showing that the indoor sex trade is populated by largely vulnerable, often young, mostly migrant women. The report also reveals that a wide range of vulnerabilities and risk factors precipitate entry into prostitution - creating the context for high levels of trafficking and coercion within the Irish sex trade. Once involved, women continue to face a series of significant adversities which often serve to entrap them further within prostitution. Evidence of pimping, the organisation of prostitution, and the profiteering of criminal gangs in the Irish sex trade abounds. 

"It is clear from this report that violence against women is endemic to the sex trade and is used by criminals, pimps and buyers alike as a means to control women. The report found no evidence that the introduction of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 caused a surge in violence against persons in prostitution. Rather, these findings confirm the endemic nature of violence in prostitution, and the extent of involvement by crime gangs.  

‘This is why the recent change in the law to target clients is so important. The 2017 Act is a normative law – by criminalising those who purchase others for sex, the 2017 Act shows that this type of sexual exploitation is not acceptable in our society.’