Green Party TD’s to host briefing on decriminalisation of sex work

Green Party TD’s Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello are to facilitate an Oireachtas briefing on the decriminalisation of sex work within the state.

The briefing will take place after the St. Patrick’s week Dáil recess on Tuesday 21st March.

In an email to Oireachtas members, the Green Party TD’s claim that national and international research has highlighted the harm associated with current Government policy around the criminalisation of sex work.

The briefing will be attended by Amnesty International who will discuss their recent report “We live within a violent system”: Structural violence against sex workers In Ireland.’

Amnesty says that its report is based on ‘qualitative research’ carried out between August 2020 and October 2021. However, it accepts that’s its researchers interviewed just 30 people who have engaged in sex work currently or in the past.

In addition, between August 2020 and May 2021, its researchers conducted interviews with 17 representatives of 13 civil society organizations, three lawyers, nine academics and two medical doctors and also engaged in semi-structured in-depth interviews.

Amnesty further claims that by continuing to criminalise various aspects of sex work, including brothel keeping and living on earnings of prostitution, Ireland is failing in its international human rights law obligations to protect everyone within its jurisdiction from gender-based violence.

The report also claims that the provisions in Irish criminal law which carry criminal penalties and fines for brothel keeping and “living on the earnings of prostitution” have very specific negative consequences on sex workers’ right to adequate housing.

“The potential for these provisions to be harmful to sex workers is particularly enhanced given the scarcity of adequate housing and people’s consequent heavy dependency on private housing provision in Ireland. The indirect criminalisation of sex work in this way impedes sex workers’ ability to access the private housing sector on an equal basis with others and compels many sex workers who do find housing to live with the constant stress and fear of being found out or someone informing their landlord of their work and subsequently being evicted.”

The Green Party TD’s who are facilitating the briefing for TD’s and Senators say that the Amnesty report reveals how “criminalisation has led to an adversarial relationship with An Garda Síochána, deters the reporting of violence against vulnerable sex workers and consequentially their rightful access to justice.”

The briefing will also be attended by organisations with experience fighting for and promoting the “health, safety, participation and dignity of all female, male, cis and trans sex workers in Ireland.”

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