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Home > Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality debate: Review of legislation on prostitution: discussion (resumed) (continued).

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality debate: Review of legislation on prostitution: discussion (resumed) (continued). (16 Jan 2013)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...


Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: I am not a member of the committee but I am interested in the topic. I was attending another committee which is still sitting but I wanted to listen to this debate. I have only been here for 20 minutes and the debate has been fascinating. 

I am a former principal and teacher of an inner city girls school that is in an area of acute disadvantage. One cannot introduce legislation without a cultural shift in society or educational programmes taking place. I have a sense of how young girls and young men view themselves in terms of their sexuality and sexual power. I know about the commercial pressures that are placed on children which shortens their childhood and demands them to be sexual objects before they are ready. Does that play a part in dealing with prostitution here? The delegation may have touched on the matter earlier and I apologise for going over old ground. How big a role does drugs play in leading people into the sex trade? I was a political counsellor in the inner city and I had to deal with an issue related to street prostitution. At the time the Garda suggested that a drug habit led to the huge number of young women in prostitution.
 
The Swedish approach seems to be the most sensible. The delegation has outlined the comparative situations in the countries that surround Sweden and it has led people to believe that the Swedish model is a good approach. However, other issues need to be tackled such as educational disadvantage, poverty, drugs and the sexualisation of young people. This is not a simple matter and I look forward to hearing the response.
 
Ms Monica O'Connor:I have spent my life working on issues similar to those outlined by the Deputy. I agree with him that this is not a simple matter but I will give two brief answers.
 
There are between 40 to 60 young women on the streets in Dublin because of drug related issues. Unfortunately, it has not been mentioned that 90% of prostitution is conducted indoors and the prostitutes are young migrant women. Their level of drug abuse is quite different and includes prescription drugs, cocaine and other forms of drugs. Drugs are still involved but prostitution is less visible. Prostitution does not solve the issues of poverty, drug addiction and migrant women but exacerbates them. The more young women who are in prostitution then the more drugs will be used. Recently I interviewed women and I witnessed their gradual deterioration because they took more and more drugs to cope with what they had to do and they have quickly spiralled out of control. I agree with the Deputy that there is a need for services, especially the provision of health services for the women who will speak about drugs and all of those issues at the next session.

[For the full debate, click on this link to the Oireachtas website]

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