press release: One prosecution for man caught up in raid shows law is not fit for purpose

Sex Workers Want Rights Not Rescueess releasem

Kate McGrew, director of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) says “This man was caught procuring sex during a raid on a so-called brothel, when two or more workers work together. This case yet against highlights how the law is being used against workers who may want to work together for safety reasons. This man was collateral damage in an ill-fated war to end demand. He was not the intended target of the raid, the workers were.” 

She continues “As a result of this prosecution workers will be forced to work alone, which increases their vulnerability. Working or living with another sex worker is illegal in Ireland. Penalties doubled for workers working in pairs or groups when the law change and this change in law happened quietly, but it is an extremely dangerous piece of legislation. The Nordic model purportedly is meant to target the client but by this law, but if we want to work legally here we are forced to work alone. Violent attacks specifically increased on us 77% in the first year of the law being introduced. This is not a coincidence.” 

“This is the first prosecution of a client under the laws brought in in 2017, but from statistics we go from the Central Statistics office we know 55 people have been arrested. We can only conclude that the rest of those prosecuted under brothel keeping laws are the workers themselves. Is this really what this law was introduced for?” 

“For sex workers the police are vectors of violence, not of safety or harm reduction. Many migrant sex workers, already on the margins of society, are offered the choice of leaving the country or face prosecution and possibly deportation. When anti-sex work organisations speak about all sex work being violence, including the consensual transactions, what recourse do we have when we are actually assaulted?”

“No one is asking about the sex workers who have been caught in this raid. We hope they are safe and getting the support they need and we would like to remind them and all other sex workers that we are here for peer-led, non judgemental support for all sex workers”