The exploitation of women in the sex trade is no longer an urban issue but is well established in smaller rural regions of Ireland, according to Ruhama.
Today (August 22nd) the Dublin-based NGO which supports women affected by prostitution published its Annual Statistics Report for 2010. Citing the increasing role played by mobile phones and the internet in advertising prostitution in Ireland the report observes that prostitution is no longer restricted to large urban areas but is a presence now in even the smallest rural communities. “It is happening in small communities in apartments, over shops and pubs – hidden in plain sight. Women are moved quickly and sometimes frequently and the criminals involved remain at arms length hiding behind a computer screen”.
The report shows that Ruhama worked with women from 31 different countries during the course of 2010, highlighting both the globalised nature of the sex trade in this country and the fact that trafficking is playing an increasing role in forcing women and young girls into prostitution. Of the 140 women the NGO supported through casework, 80 had been trafficked into Ireland. 61% of those trafficked came from Nigeria with Romania, Cameroon, Albania, Moldova and Ghana the next significant cohort. Other women came from countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
Commenting on the statistics CEO Sarah Benson said, “This truly exemplifies the global nature of prostitution and trafficking and reflects the complexity of a frontline response such as that offered by Ruhama. We are constantly adapting to ensure that we are mindful and respectful of the diverse cultural backgrounds of the women accessing our services”.
Intoducing the report, Sarah Benson observes that the focus has turned in recent times, from the women and girls, and the small number of men and boys who are in prostitution towards those who are profiting. In this regard, she calls for the criminalisation of those who purchase sexual services. “There are a minority of men in Ireland who buy sex”, she said. “Most sex buyers are married or in relationships and will have a higher than average number of sex partners compared to non-sex buyers. The attitudes expressed by sex buyers surveyed, towards the women they buy are deeply troubling and indicate a total lack of respect and in some cases serious antagonism for the women involved.”
Through a combination of casework and street outreach Ruhama worked with a total of 204 women last year, an increase on 2009 of 4%.
To read Ruhama’s report in full click here.
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