Information on Human Trafficking

Press Release, 10th November, 2008

First-ever Advertising Campaign Targeting Men who Purchase Sex in Ireland
Mary O Rourke, TD and Patron of Ruhama, today (Monday 10th November at 11am in All Hallows College) launched Ruhama’s TV advertising campaign aimed at men who solicit sex from victims of trafficking in Ireland.

There is a growing recognition internationally that efforts to combat sex trafficking needs to focus more on addressing the demand for the purchase of sexual services. This ongoing demand is fueling the market in sex trafficking and making it a very lucrative criminal business for traffickers.

This year Ireland enacted legislation to deal with human trafficking and decided to follow international trends by criminalizing the users of women who are victims of sex trafficking in their Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act of 2008.

This campaign is aimed at highlighting this new area of legislation and targets the men who are potential or regular users of women involved in prostitution.

Kathleen Fahy, Director of Ruhama said today ‘This campaign focuses on the users of trafficked women – those who buy sexual services and without whom the trade in human flesh would not be so lucrative. I appeal to these men to think about the hurt and trauma inflicted on the women’.

Ms. Fahy goes on to say, ‘It is time to bring the buyers to prominence in the evil crime of sex trafficking. For too long the user has fallen under the radar of responsibility and allowed to act with impunity; – this new legislation changes all this’.

The advertisement campaign will be broadcast on RTE, TV3, and Setanta Sports TV channels over the coming month. It will also be available on the web.

Ruhama received funding from the Department of Justice under the Gender Equality Unit for this awareness campaign.

Contacts for Press Enquiries: Gerardine Rowley, Ruhama, 01 836 0292 or 086 259 1247 Wally Young, Young Communications 01 66 80530 or 087 247 1520

Horror of daily life in the sex trade. Foreign prostitutes are trapped in a world of mercenary pimps and violent clients, writes Alison O’Riordan
Sunday March 01 2009

They were enticed into Ireland with empty promises, but foreign women working in the sex industry now find themselves trapped by ruthless organised criminals. In the twilight world of illegal prostitution, they feel they cannot turn to the law for protection.

The vast majority of women in "off-street prostitution" are now non-nationals. One former prostitute who worked for an Irish escort agency told the Sunday Independent how she came to Ireland from Eastern Europe knowing that she would be working in the sex trade but soon discovered the harsh reality of life as a prostitute here. Rachel (a false name) says that criminals now have a stranglehold on the sex trade. She said brothels take up to half the girl’s earnings and charge extortionate rents.

"I came to Ireland to earn in euros as where I come from the currency is weak and girls like me get the equivalent of €50 an hour, whereas in Ireland I could earn up to €250 an hour. I was informed how half of that fee would go to an 'agency' and I would pay an extra €40 a day for accommodation. I asked the relevant questions regarding safety, the calibre of the clientele and working condition. I agreed to go abroad and earn in a short space of time what I usually earn in three months. They contact you either through a friend in the business or text messaging promising you the world," she said.

Rachel said she was appalled at how inhumane the Irish agency was and how money was valued above all else. She said: "These people thrive on the misery of girls. Ireland is dark, dirty and dangerous. The places we were expected to work from were filthy. Many aren’t fit for use and pose serious health risks. Often the doors don’t lock and people off the street had easy access to the premises."

Foreign women in Ireland lack family and social links here and are exploited by their pimps. If they report being assaulted, they are thrown onto the streets.

"Most of the girls come to Ireland with hardly any money, they can’t speak English and don't know anything about how things work in a strange country. So we are left with no alternative just take all the abuse," said Rachel.

"Should we then decide to work for another agency or independently as I did, you are intimidated, physically threatened, robbed of your earnings and often kidnapped. Some agencies go as far as confiscating passports and hold the girls hostage. We were beaten so as to teach us a lesson or to make us look terrible so that we couldn’t work. One has no choice but to work for them or your life becomes a living hell," she said.

Those behind the agency never meet the girls. The women are given job details by phone and are told where to take the cash.

"The reason for this is if the girls get caught by the police, they won't be able to assist the police in identifying the people behind all of this and the girl therefore bears the brunt of the law," said Rachel. "They do, however, have small groups of local Irish youngsters working for them who do their dirty work in terms of threatening, assaulting and collecting the cash for these agencies.

"Sometimes, they force themselves on the girls, telling them that if they do not comply, they will be beaten or kicked out on the street and robbed of everything."

"Many of us do this to better our lives, whether we are trying to pay for our studies, our children’s schooling or just simply to survive. I was treated like livestock, an expendable commodity. I had no one to turn to in Ireland."