My name is Laura and I am an escort based in Scotland although I spent a great deal of my early working life in the sex industry in Dublin and indeed travelling around the Irish country.
I have first hand experience of working in massage parlours in Dublin before their closure, working for an escort agency and indeed working as an independent lady in the ROI.
In all of my years (over 17) of experience, I never came across a sex worker who was trafficked or coerced in any way. I regularly attended the Baggot Street clinic for check ups and had occasion to meet women who worked on the street there. These were not women who were pimped in any way, very simply they were labouring under extreme poverty, or drug addiction which to my mind are the real issues which need to be addressed.
In terms of modern advertising and methods of advertising on the internet, I have met and personally know a lot of the ladies who currently advertise in Ireland because we stay in touch in order to keep one and other safe, if for no other reason. I know that were anyone to suggest to these ladies that they were being controlled by anything other than their own very strong wills, it would make them very angry indeed.
Due to the clandestine nature of the industry, we are up against enough as it is with stigma, shame, living in fear of the gutter press or our families finding out and to add to that by criminalising two adults who indulge in consensual sex is hugely immoral in itself.
The campaign as presented by TORL at the moment is based on statistics which have been debunked time and time again and to rely on those would be erroneous in the extreme not to mention potentially harmful to sex workers.
As it stands at the moment, as sex workers we have a good working relationship with the Gardai, far preferable to a “them and us” environment. Indeed, it is our clients who will meet the real victims of trafficking and as such open communication between clients and the Gardai on a confidential basis should be strongly encouraged.
Finally, when considering the submissions of the abolitionists, I would strongly urge you to remember that the statistics they are quoting are based on dated surveys of street workers and we now know, that in fact only 10% of all sex work takes place on street. Due regard must surely be given to those of us who work quietly and privately, to support our families in a time of recession.
(first published March 2013)