Ruhama says calls to decriminalise buying sex make “no sense” in wake of Geila Ibram murder

Irish charity Ruhama who works with women and girls who have been sexually exploited have said that calls to decriminalise the purchase of sex in Ireland “make no sense”. 

In a statement released in the aftermath of the murder of Romanian woman Geila Ibram who was stabbed in a ‘frenzied attack’ by an Afghan man and found dead in Limerick last Tuesday.

Geila (27)  is believed to have been involved in the sex trade and was reportedly “arranging a sexual exchange” with Habib Shamel who came to Ireland as an asylum seeker. 

Ruhama says that young women from Central & Eastern Europe, and Romania in particular, are “disproportionately overrepresented” among those involved in the sex trade in Ireland, and that many of these have young children. 

“Geila’s murder highlights once again how the sex trade is inherently violent, dangerous, and harmful,” it says, adding that pimps, human traffickers, and sex buyers profit from women involved in prostitution. 

Ruhama says women involved in the sex trade are 18 times more likely to be murdered than those who are not adding that international figures show that women in prostitution experience the “highest rates of homicide of any group of women ever studied”. 

“Every sex trade in every jurisdiction is rife with violence, regardless of the laws that are in place.”

Violence against women involved in prostitution is described as being “endemic” in Ireland and that it is used to control women and force them to comply with the wishes of both pimps and sex buyers. 

The NGO called for a light to be shone on the “perpetrators” of sexual exploitation and dismissed suggestions of decriminalising the sex trade as making “no sense”.

It is currently legal to sell sex in Ireland although the purchase is illegal. 

Ruhama says that decimalisation of the sex trade would allow pimps and organisers to “act with impunity” and would “do a grave injustice to the women and girls being assaulted, exploited and harmed in the sex trade right now”. 

“Evidence from around the world demonstrates that decriminalising sex buyers, pimps and prostitution organisers expands the sex trade and the violence and other grave human rights abuses that accompany it,” it says. 

“The answer is not to go removing all laws relating to prostitution and allowing the market to grow.”

It also called for police to be better resourced in order to tackle the “key targets” of the trade, the buyers, pimps, and organisers. 

Ruhama says it remains “extremely concerned” about what it said was the “increase in the levels of violence against women in prostitution being reported in recent years.” adding that only one case resulted in the conviction of a sex buyer last month after he violently assaulted two escorts. 

“It is vital that victims and survivors impacted by prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation receive adequate support and that justice is pursued to prosecute violent perpetrators in every instance,” it said. 

The agency says tackling commercial sexual exploitation is vital in “combatting and eradicating violence against women.”

It added that everything must be done to tackle Ireland’s “highly exploitative sex trade” and the perpetrators of violence involved in it, “before another woman’s life is lost.” 


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