Pandemic of violence against sex workers brought about by change in law has not ended

Yesterday a man who attacked and robbed two sex workers working together for safety was jailed for 10 years. 

Aoife Bloom, board member of SWAI says “The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) welcomes the news that a man who violently attacked two members of our community was jailed for 10 years. We commend the bravery of these two workers in helping to bring this man to justice. However, we feel that this harrowing crime was entirely preventable. These violent assaults are the direct result of the introduction of client criminalisation and the increase in penalties against so-called brothel-keeping in 2017.”

“SWAI and other allies warned that these new laws would push sex workers away from Gardaí and drive the industry underground. Those who work together for safety risk arrest and jail time. Criminals know this and target sex workers precisely because the law forces sex workers to work alone to work legally. Those who are co-working are unlikely to contact the Gardaí if they are the victims of a crime. This makes us sitting ducks!”

“Thankfully the victims were not discouraged by these laws from reporting the assault in this particular instance. However we know that violent incidents like this have become more common since 2017 while the trust in the Gardaí necessary to report crimes like these has fallen. As a result successful prosecutions such as this one have become more difficult.”

Since 2017 there has been a 92% increase in violence against sex workers. There has also been a reduction in trust in the Gardaí. Less than 1% of sex workers feel comfortable in reporting crimes against them. The victims, in this case, were migrant workers, forced to work by economic circumstances. As we face into a recession, more and more people will enter this industry.” 

“We want to reduce the harm in sex work and ensure people in the industry are as safe as they can be. Sex work prohibitionists and misguided politicians who support our regressive laws say that sex work can never be safe. We beg of them to just listen to sex workers when we say that Ireland needs to decriminalise sex work so we can be safe. Their ideology is not more important than our safety.”