Anniversary of Geila Ibram’s Murder Highlights Continued Neglect of Sex Workers’ Safety by Irish Government

As we approach the first anniversary of the tragic murder of Geila Ibram, a sex worker in Limerick, the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) berates the Gardaí for continued lack of contact, while violent offenders prey on this community.

Linda Kavanagh, spokesperson for SWAI said “We recently learned through the media that another predator is preying on sex workers in Ireland. We have had no contact with the Gardaí about this, despite our attempts to open up lines of communication recently. We can confirm that Ugly Mugs, a safety app used by sex workers, was also not warned. Outdoor workers, such as street workers, are sitting ducks while the Gardaí refuse to use what little safety networks sex workers have to keep them safe. Gardaí pose as clients and lie to sex workers to get access to them, under the guise of so-called welfare checks, but refuse to warn them of dangerous attackers operating in the area. No wonder less than 1% of sex workers report crimes against them to the Gardaí, compared to 81% of the general population who have trust in Gardaí.

Mardi Kennedy, Coordinator of SWAI condemns the Irish government’s continued neglect of sex workers’ safety and well-being. “Geila’s murder stands as a grim reminder of the dangers faced by sex workers under the Nordic Model of client criminalisation, which prioritises ideology over evidence and endangers the lives of those it claims to protect.

Despite repeated warnings from sex workers and allies during the debates surrounding the introduction of the Nordic Model in 2015-2016, the government has failed to acknowledge the real consequences of this legislation. The Nordic Model, implemented in 2017, has only exacerbated violence against sex workers, as evidenced by Geila Ibram’s tragic death and the ongoing harassment, threats, and violence faced by sex workers across Ireland.”

SWAI demands immediate action from the government to address the urgent concerns facing sex workers in Ireland. Ministerial refusal to engage with SWAI and other stakeholders, coupled with the farcical review process of sex work laws conducted by the Department of Justice, reflects a blatant disregard for the voices and safety of sex workers. The delay, lack of transparency, and failure to include active sex workers in the review process raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to understanding the impact of these laws. 

Mardi continues “In areas where reform is needed, the government has a strong track record of bringing in independent experts, and these experts have produced groundbreaking and change-making reports. As a matter of principle and in the pursuit of good governance, we demand that the Department of Justice reverse its decision to finalise the sex work law review in-house. It sets an alarming precedent that will have disturbing effects for many other marginalised groups.” 

Linda added “The government’s refusal to listen to sex workers and its prioritisation of ideology over evidence and research is both unfathomable and dangerous. Geila Ibram’s murder should have been a wake-up call, but instead, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. How many more sex workers must suffer or die before the government takes meaningful action and decriminalises sex work?”

In addition to the ongoing threats and violence faced by sex workers, the criminalisation of sex work exacerbates mental health challenges, housing insecurity, financial precarity, and isolation within the sex worker community. SWAI calls for the decriminalisation of sex work as a crucial step towards ensuring the safety, rights, and dignity of sex workers in Ireland.

As we mark the anniversary of Geila Ibram, SWAI urges the Irish government to prioritise the safety, well-being, and rights of sex workers by ending the harmful criminalisation of sex work and engaging meaningfully with sex workers in policy decisions that impact their lives.

Press release in speech bubble

SWAI wholeheartedly condemn the Department of Justice’s Handling of Sex Work Laws Review

The Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI) expresses deep disappointment and frustration regarding the Minister for Justice’s written answer to the parliamentary question put forth by Catherine Connolly on the 22nd February. This follows the Minister’s refusal to engage with SWAI on the processes and setbacks that the review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) 2017 report has already undergone. 

Mardi Kennedy, director of SWAI said “Sex workers, the primary stakeholders in this review, feel marginalised and unheard. The independent reviewer stepped back recently, and we raised concerns at the time that the knowledge that was gained from the meetings held has been lost. The news that the Department of Justice thinks it can continue this ludicrous process would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.”

Linda Kavanagh spokesperson for SWAI added “I was in attendance during the meeting with Maura Butler and I noted that the meeting wasn’t recorded. We know from consultation with the sex workers who were involved that their meetings were not recorded either. How will the assistant to the independent reviewer be able to convey the vital information that sex workers imparted in these meetings to people who were not present through notes? 

Active sex workers are the most important voices needed in this review. It is of vital importance for sex workers’ voices in shaping policies that impact their lives. Meaningful inclusion of sex worker’s voices in this process was set out in the terms of reference but this has failed. Full engagement of sex workers has not been attempted.”

She continues “Despite numerous requests, SWAI has not received any response regarding the review process, leading us to demand a scrapping and redoing of the review. The Minister’s ongoing refusal to meet is seen as a disregard for the lived experiences and safety concerns of sex workers under the Nordic model of client criminalisation.

Sex workers are questioning whether ideology is prioritised over evidence, research, and the well-being of the community in this process. The recent setback in the review process further raises concerns about the government’s commitment to understanding the impact of the laws on sex workers’ lives. SWAI demands transparency, meaningful engagement, and a thorough review process to restore trust and credibility.

Would it have been acceptable for the Department of Health to conduct the review of the current abortion law, which, we note, was called for later than this review (2019) and was conducted and published last year? Why are only some women’s issues important to this government? Why are only some women listened to about the policies that shape their lives?

This past year has been especially devastating, marked by the tragic murder of a sex worker in Limerick, low trust in Gardaí, and the annual raids disguised as welfare checks that sex workers regularly endure. SWAI urges the government to address the pressing issues faced by sex workers and to prioritise their safety, well-being, and rights by decriminalising sex work in Ireland.

As we approach the first anniversary of the murer of Geila Ibram, SWAI reiterates its call for the decriminalisation of sex work as a crucial step towards ensuring the safety, rights, and dignity of sex workers in Ireland. SWAI also highlights the impact of criminalisation on sex workers’ mental health, emphasising the need for decriminalisation to address the stigma and structural inequalities that contribute to stress and poor mental health among sex workers. The ongoing harassment campaign, phishing scams, and threats of violence against sex workers underscore the urgency of addressing the harmful effects of criminalisation. 

We want to thank Catherine Connolly for her ongoing dedication to ensuring this process comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers closes out a brutal and deadly year for sex workers in Ireland. 

Supporters of the Nordic model have Blood on their hands on a banner

Mardi Kennedy, coordinator of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) says “This year has been devastating for Irish sex workers, marked by a murder in Limerick, raids disguised as welfare checks and an ongoing campaign of harassment targeting sex workers, including phishing scams and threats of violence. The Nordic Model of client criminalisation, supported by the government, contributes to increased violence against sex workers. We call for decriminalisation of sex work as a crucial step towards ensuring the safety of sex workers.”

She continues “The tragic murder of Geila Ibram, a sex worker in Limerick, underscores the consequences of laws disregarding sex workers’ voices and safety. We reiterate that warnings from sex workers and allies during the 2015-2016 Nordic Model debates have been validated by extensive research and lived experiences worldwide. And now the danger the state was warned about has come to pass. How the government chooses to continuously ignore sex workers and research is both unfathomable and confusing”.

Linda Kavanagh, spokesperson for SWAI says “Client criminalisation and so-called brothel-keeping laws have led to adverse effects on negotiation dynamics, prioritisation of the safety and well-being of the client rather than the sex worker themselves, and the industry being pushed underground, forcing risk-taking behaviours. The 2017 law escalated fines and introduced jail sentences for brothel keeping, making legal and safe work incompatible. The criminalisation of consenting adults has failed to curb exploitation and trafficking in Ireland and disregards sex workers’ calls for decriminalisation.”

She continues “In October SWAI reported on an ongoing campaign of harassment targeting sex workers, including phishing scams and threats of violence. This highlights the need to address violence against sex workers, which goes unnoticed and unreported. Less than 1% of sex workers report crimes against them to the Gardaí, compared to 81% of the general population who have trust in Gardaí.

This lack of trust in the police is caused by all-island brothel raids disguised as welfare checks, which conveniently happen around the 16 Days to End Gender-based Violence each year. The Gardaí, disguising themselves as clients, shamelessly deceive sex workers to gain access to them. These intrusive checks, coupled with their mass texts, have inflicted terror upon sex workers. It’s infuriating that this is the chosen method to combat trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry. It does nothing to end exploitation in the sex industry.”

“We also learned of another setback in the overdue review of sex work laws, with the independent reviewer stepping back. We condemn the lack of transparency and engagement with stakeholders and demand a restart of the review due to concerns about outdated data and the loss of direct engagement with sex workers. We have since learned that the reviewer stepped back due to the lack of faith the Department of Justice had in her and her methods. 

The extended delay raises questions about the government’s commitment to addressing the issues faced by sex workers. We reiterate the importance of a thorough and transparent review process that genuinely considers the impact on sex workers’ lives. How can we trust this process when it has been a disaster from the beginning?

SWAI demands immediate action to address the urgent concerns facing sex workers in Ireland. We urge the government to prioritise the safety, well-being, and rights of sex workers, acknowledging their invaluable role in shaping policies that impact their lives.”

The tide has decisively turned against sex workers in Ireland, trampling their rights and safety. These are real people, coerced into solitary work for legality, only to be shunned by rape and assault services and denied mental health aid, branding their economic activity as self-harm.

In this hostile landscape of criminalisation, shame and stigma, threats and harassment loom large. The violence isn’t from clients but from men emboldened by the law’s dehumanising rhetoric. As the 16 Days to End Gender-Based Violence comes to an end, will the focus be on exposing the grim reality of harassment, stalking, and threats faced by sex workers, or will misguided support for laws perpetuating this violence persist?

In the face of murder, assault, robbery, and deceit at the hands of Gardaí, what does it take for their voices to be heard?”

Megaphone saying Press relelase

This week a phishing scam from someone pretending to be a major advertising site contacted non-national sex workers who are currently advertising. Later in the week, these texts escalated into extreme threats of violence, including threats of murder. 

Separately a man with an Irish accent has been calling sex workers, harassing them with threats of violence.  All of this is part of an ongoing, sustained campaign of harassment with serious time and resources being put into it. 

Mardi Kennedy, coordinator of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) says “We are highlighting these events to warn sex workers about the phishing calls but also to highlight the type of violence against sex workers, who are mostly women, that goes unnoticed, unreported and not talked about.”

She continued “We also wanted to bring attention to the campaign of harassment that has been levelled against Ugly Mugs, the app sex workers use to keep themselves safe. 

Due to online harassment, the person running the Ugly Mugs social media has been forced to take down their social media accounts. Ugly Mugs does not have an advertising budget and relies on word of mouth and social media to direct sex workers to this essential service. The police are powerless to address the violent threats that have been made to the person running the account and social media companies are indifferent.” 

Linda Kavanagh, spokesperson for SWAI said “There have been countless complaints to 3rd parties about Ugly Mugs from somebody or some people over the past several months. This app is one of the few safety nets sex workers have. If this app disappears, sex workers will die. It is as simple as that. 

Less than 1% of sex workers report crimes against them to the Gardaí, compared to 81% of the general population who have trust in Gardaí. How does this statistic not concern the Minister for Justice? How does it not concern those who campaign against gender-based violence?”

Linda continued “Sex workers are real people, who are forced to work alone to work legally. They are rejected from rape and sexual assault services because of their job. They are refused treatment by mental health professionals because the economic activity they perform is framed as acts of self-harm. Gardaí pose as clients and lied to sex workers to get access to them, under the guise of so-called welfare checks.

Threats and harassment are inevitable in the current environment of criminalisation and stigma. This violence is not from clients but from men who feel empowered by the law and the dehumanising language around sex workers. During the 16 Days to End Gender-Based Violence next month will we see a focus on the reality of harassment, stalking and threats to sex workers, or will we see more misguided support for laws and stigma that creates the environment for this violence?”

Press release in speech bubble

Today the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) learned that the long overdue review of the sex work laws in Ireland has hit another stumbling block, as the independent reviewer heading up the report has stepped back.

Linda Kavanagh, comms manager of SWAI said “ As usual, there was no contact made with SWAI and other stakeholders to let us know of yet another issue with this independent review. We are grateful to have learned this through a question asked by Catherine Connolly, who has been persistent in her enquiries as the timeframe for this report became longer and longer.”

She continued “A mandatory review of the law was built into the change in Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 to occur 3 years after the law was passed. Despite numerous requests for information on the process, the report’s mechanisms remained opaque. We note that the abortion law review was called for later than this review (2019) and was conducted and published earlier this year. We have now been waiting 3.5 years to be heard.” 

Mardi Kennedy, coordinator of SWAI said “We have been troubled by the lack of transparency about this review since it began. We worry that the time elapsed since we participated in the review means the data is out of date. We are concerned that the independent reviewer, the person who talked with sex workers directly, is now no longer involved and any person who steps into the role now will lack that meaningful engagement.” 

Linda said of the review “We have become increasingly frustrated with the statements made by the various Ministers for Justice during this time. If there was an issue with the time taken for the femicide report, as described in 2020, why has that issue persisted into mid-2023? We have reached out to the Minister for Justice to request a meeting.

While the review has taken up considerable time and resources for our organisation, and the mental capacity of the sex workers who engaged in the process, we would rather see this process started again and done properly. This review is vitally important, lives are at stake. We have already seen a young woman, Geila Ibram murdered under these laws, sex workers jailed for so-called brothel keeping, and increased and violent attacks. How can sex workers have faith in this process with so many delays and changes?”

Amber*, a sex worker based in Ireland said “The Government failed us when the laws were introduced. They are again failing us by denying us an opportunity to inform them on how these laws are impacting our lives!”.

Leea Berry, Chair of SWAI and current sex worker, stated “The lack of importance shown toward the review of this law is concerning. The current law has already murdered one sex worker and continues to harm us. How many more must suffer or die before we can have the review we were promised?”


Yellow siren

The murder of a sex worker is the grim but obvious result of a law that disregards the voices and safety of sex workers. 

Linda Kavanagh, communications manager of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland says “When this law was being debated in 2015 and 2016 sex workers and allies warned that the law would increase violence against sex workers. Since that time mountains of research, as well as the lived experiences of sex workers, have shown us to be correct.”

She continues “Everywhere the so-called Nordic Model has been passed, sex workers have been murdered. It has happened in France, it has happened in Sweden in the country of its origin, and now it has happened here.

Client criminalisation laws reduce the number of clients while doing nothing to address the economic need which drives people to do sex work in the first place. Despite the misguided promises of those who support the law, the client now has the upper hand in negotiation – he is the one at risk of criminal prosecution. To get the client’s money, a sex worker needs to make him feel safe and deprioritise their own safety. This may result in risk-taking behaviour like not using a condom, or taking on clients that a worker would normally turn down. The industry is pushed underground, away from services that can help a worker in an exploitative situation. 

In 2017 the law also increased fines and added a jail sentence for so-called brothel keeping, where two or more sex workers share accommodation. Almost all sex workers we speak to want to work with another worker. Sex work is a cash business and working alone makes sex workers targets for criminals. Working safely and working legally are now incompatible. 

The laws surrounding sex work have made criminals of consenting adults and have done nothing to stem the rising tide of violence against women in Ireland. Those at the forefront of the fight against violence against women vocally support our misguided laws. They refuse to listen to sex workers when they say they want sex work to be decriminalised.

When we hear of sex workers being murdered our immediate concern is the safety of the sex work community. What systems are in place for when something of this magnitude happens? It became clear to those of us in direct contact with sex workers day in and day out that there was not a Garda system in place. It was Ugly Mugs, advertiser sites and the community ourselves who spread the information about the attack and warned sex workers. A description of the possible perpetrator was given to the media before it was given to the community. Without organisations that constantly get called “the Pimp Lobby”, get refused funding, get shut out of policy decisions, and have our data and research ridiculed and laughed at (genuinely) the community would not know what was going on. 

Another migrant woman has been killed in our country, because of our laws. It is time for people in Ireland to demand the end to laws that put women, migrants, gender-diverse and marginalised people in harm’s way. We deserve better than a country that pushes people into sex work through the continuing housing crisis, lack of drug reform, lack of legal migration paths, the cost of living crisis etc and then puts people in danger when they chose to do sex work. People are desperate because of these concurrent crises. Violence like this is not inevitable, but the dehumanising language used around sex work contributes to it. We need to fully decriminalise sex work as a first step towards the safety of sex workers. 

Our thoughts are with her and her family.

#DecrimforSafety #SupportSafeSexWork

“Today is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, and since we marked this day last year there has been a notable shift in attitudes against sex workers in Ireland,” says Mardi Kennedy, coordinator of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI). 

“The tide is turning against sex workers, and it is alarming to see”, Mardi continues. “This year the Department of Justice funded‘ I Must Be Some Person’ research highlighted that 1 in 5 street sex workers in Ireland has been sexually assaulted by Gardaí. This research was unique in giving voice to street sex workers who have been silenced in the dominant narrative around sex work in Ireland.”

Linda Kavanagh, comms manager for SWAI added “We have also recently learned of a sex worker who had their earnings seized at Belfast airport. Selling sex is supposed to be legal on the island of Ireland and yet this worker had her name published online and her earnings stolen by the police. Under what law have her earnings been seized?” 

“All-island brothel raids were conducted in November with no mention of the well-being of the sex workers involved. Gardaí have posed as clients and lied to sex workers to get access to them to conduct so-called welfare checks. The Gardaí have then taken the names of the landlords of these premises. These checks, accompanied by mass texts, have terrorised sex workers and we have been contacted by many sex workers who are concerned by these actions. This is not how to go about combatting trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry.”

“Violence against sex workers comes in many forms, not just from clients. Police, the government, healthcare professionals, landlords, and society at large are all vectors of violence against sex workers. We know this because SWAI listens to sex workers themselves. Trust in the Gardaí amongst the rest of the population is at 90% according to the Gardaí’s own research. If we compare that to the Ugly Mugs stats, the only stats of crimes against sex workers that are collected, we see that less than 1% of sex workers report crimes against them to Gardaí.”

“In the past year we have learned that victims of trafficking who were prosecuted for brothel-keeping will not have their convictions wiped. There is a huge problem in Ireland with trafficked people getting recognised as such, while it suits many to conflate all sex work with trafficking. Just look at the number of traffickers prosecuted and how Ireland has been admonished numerous times for our lack of convictions” says Leah Butler.  

She continues “On a more positive note, this year the review of the law continued and we eagerly await the outcome of this report. This review MUST centre on the experiences of current sex workers and how the Nordic model of client criminalisation has made sex workers more vulnerable to violence, including violence from the state.” 

Here at SWAI we have hired a new coordinator and have a new board, made up of sex workers and allies. We have resumed our monthly coffee meet-ups, and online meet-ups to bolster the diverse community of sex workers in Ireland. We have sent vouchers to sex workers who are struggling with the cost of living crisis because we know that sex workers need more than rhetoric to survive. 

This International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers we demand that sex workers are listened to when we call for the decriminalisation of sex work. The cost of living crisis, on top of the years-long housing crisis, means more people turn to sex work to make ends meet. The Irish government is pushing people into sex work but simultaneously ensures they are less safe once they are. 

Review image

Sex workers must be listened to in the review of the sex work law 

Currently working sex workers in Ireland are central to the review of the law, says Kate McGrew, sex worker and director of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI). We are the experts in how this law has affected the health and safety of sex workers in Ireland. The voice of SWAI, the only frontline, sex worker-led organisation in Ireland, was largely excluded when this law was debated in 2017. This was unacceptable. 


In response to enquiring about other organisations receiving government funding during the pandemic, the Department of Justice, under the previous Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan, refused SWAI explicitly for as long as we refer to all sex work not as gender-based violence but as an economic activity. Without help from the state, sex workers – already on the margins –  were forced to risk their health by continuing to work for survival. SWAI was faced with doing the work of crowdfunding a hardship fund to successfully give small grants of €100 to over 150 female, male and trans sex workers in Ireland since the beginning of the pandemic to help flatten the curve.

SWAI exists to fight exploitation and to empower people in the sex industry via the labour rights other workers rely on and by removing stigma and criminal laws that have proven to leave sex workers with only illegal avenues, creating barriers to reporting crime and violence, and providing no viable alternatives to working. 

We hope that the new Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who was so active on the repeal of the 8th amendment, remembers how it is essential to centre those with lived experience when discussing the law that affects their lives. Bodily autonomy is not just about abortion and we are the next in line to see the effect of a more progressive, caring Ireland who is moving away from its dark past. 

We welcome that the review will focus on the impact the law has had on the health and wellbeing of currently working sex workers. We do not speak over sex workers, we ARE sex workers and we know that this law has failed in its ambitions. 

The review will also focus on how the law has achieved and not achieved its aims. It has succeeded in prosecuting young migrant sex workers working together for safety. It has failed to lead to the arrests of traffickers. It has succeeded in increasing violence against sex workers by 92%. It has failed to decrease the number of people sex work. Its has succeeded distancing sex workers from supports including Gardai. It has failed to increase sex workers trust in the Gardaí, there was a near 20% decrease in workers who wished their reports of crime or violence would be passed on to Gardai. It has not made Ireland a safer place for sex workers. It has failed. 

We welcome the news that Maura Butler has been appointed to oversee the review of the Sexual Offences Law (2017). We note her many years of experience in the legal field, her academic record and her clear commitment to equality. We also note that she has been chair of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and their representative at the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). Both of these organisations have a strong stance against sex work and SWAI has been refused membership of the NWCI for 3 years, an unacceptable exclusion of a key population of vulnerable women.

Government policy should be based on outcomes, not morality. We need to get real about sex work in Ireland and work towards a law that means that sex workers are safe, as healthy as they can be and have laws that protect us. We welcome the review of this law and the opportunity to finally be heard.

Harm reduction, sex work and Covida-19

For sex workers

As sex workers ourselves, we know that when everyone is being told to isolate our work gets hit. If you can take some time off to stop working and social distance now is a good time. 

We also know that some people will need to work to survive. This blogspot outlines a harm reduction approach to sex work during the coronavirus. Do the best you can, that is all anyone can do and you are the best person to make decisions about the reality of your life.

Covid-19 spreads through droplets when a person sneezes or coughs. The virus has a long incubation period so people can transmit without showing symptoms. The safest possible scenario is to keep a distance from others of two to three meters. We know this makes most of our work impossible! So, some suggestions for safer work during this time are:

  • Refraining from kissing and insist on condom-covered services including for blowjobs and dental dams for rimming.
  • Positions like doggy style or reverse cowgirl are better to limit contact and make sure you and your client take long hot showers before and after.
  • Make sure your client washes his hands for 20 seconds upon entry, and when he has left clean all surfaces that he has touched (including doorknobs and handles) with soap and water. Anti-bacterial wipes are okay, soap and water is better.
  • Try not to touch your own face as this is the way the virus enters the body.
  • Take extra care to wash any sex toys that are used
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or longer between each client, after being outside and after handling money 
  • Do not do in-person sex work with a client who is displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Do not do in-person sex work if you are displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Each worker charges according to her situation but if possible do not drop your prices. Remember that for your client this is leisure but for you, it’s your livelihood

We know us sex workers are already very good at protecting our health, we just have to be extra careful at this moment!

Please note that there is now a firewall between immigration and the department of health so even if you are undocumented you can still contact a doctor if you have symptoms of the coronavirus.

If you need anything from SWAI, even just for a chat please get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you. 

For clients

Please note that sex workers have always been impeccable when it comes to hygiene. 

  • If possible try to seek remote sexual services such as video or phone sex. Please note that this may not always be possible
  • Ensure your hygiene is exemplary. Note that you are responsible for your own health
  • Wash your hands immediate for 20 seconds or more when entering the premises
  • If running water is not available please use hand sanitiser
  • You should always respect the boundaries a sex worker has but now please do so for your own safety
  • Tip generously, sex workers are always impeccable about hygiene but are taking a risk to see you
  • Wear a condom for all sex acts (without complaint!)
  • Do not seek the services of a sex worker if you are displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Do not be racist to members of the Asian community
  • Donate to the SWAI hardship fund
For allies

SWAI Hardship Fund

SWAI Hardship Fund

On Saturday 21st March the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland launched our crowdfund to ensure that some of society’s most vulnerable people can survive. 

All non-essential workplaces have closed and people are being advised to stay indoors and to ‘social distance’ from each other. This is having a particular impact on the sex industry. Already sex workers are seeing a dramatic decrease in clients. Clients are staying away, hotels are closing or at least disallowing non-residents in, and university students are being evicted in swaths if they are in student housing, in order to keep people apart.

We in Ireland were already living under the Nordic Model, which meant a reduction in decent clients for sex workers. This pandemic will make it so much worse for sex workers.

We know from first-hand accounts that street workers, in particular, are feeling the sting of the efforts to curb COVID-19. Most of the street workers in Ireland are truly working at a survival level and this will not change under the current lockdown.

We have also contacted high-level politicians and government departments to request that we are included in any meetings about high-risk populations. We have asked for the cessation of all garda raids on sex work-related activity for the duration of Covid-19, in particular for issues such as ‘brothel keeping’, which in most cases involves two or more people working together for health and safety.

We ask you to give what you can to help precarious workers make it through. This money will go directly into the hands of sex workers through individual emergency payments. Any little helps.