Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) demands that the courts obey the blanket ban on deportations reinstated by the Taoiseach since Level 5 Covid restrictions began.
A 32-year-old Polish native with an 11-month old son was handed down a suspended sentence yesterday in Waterford court for facilitating prostitution. She was given the choice of a 1 year prison sentence in Ireland or leaving the Republic within the next 14 days, with a promise to not return for 5 years. Her resultant departure from Ireland – whilst not officially a deportation – flies in the face of the health advice that led the Taoiseach to reinstate the deportation moratorium.
The judge incorrectly stated that “the sale of sex is a crime”. He, however, acknowledged that no one involved had been coerced and that the sex work was an economic activity. Notably, there was mention of a man present whom it was believed the women in the apartment were “fearful” of, yet it was the new mother herself who was faced with any charge. The judge also mentioned that “Society has to be protected from this sort of behaviour” harkening back to an old Ireland where stigma and shame of sexuality subjugated women.
This is another case where the brunt of the so-called brothel-keeping laws are born by migrant sex workers, as highlighted by the brothel-keepers research. The brothel-keeping law means that even two workers working together for safety are working illegally which increases our precarity.
Kate McGrew, sex worker and director Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, stated: “We advocate for a decriminalised sex industry in order that sex workers can avail of safe and vetted work environments. It is due to the current criminalization, direct and by proxy, that sex workers are forced onto a black market where criminals are poised to take advantage of our lack of options.”
She continues: “Where we are concerned about the well-being of those in the sex industry, we must acknowledge that our ability to make safe decisions is curtailed by this criminal law.”