Support group hits out at calls for prostitution to be legalised

John Halligan says garda resources would be better spent on preventing human trafficking

Support group hits out at calls for prostitution to be legalised

Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama, speaking in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Calls for prostitution to be legalised and regulated have been criticised by an interest group for women affected.

Independent TD John Halligan says prostitution should be legalised and regulated, and that garda resources would be better spent on preventing human trafficking.

It follows comments made by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, saying she will not decriminalise brothel-keeping as part of new prostitution laws.

But Deputy Halligan says a rational debate about the issue of prostitution should take place in the Dáil.

He says regulating prostitution would help women who choose to work in the sex trade.

Sarah Benson is the CEO of Ruhama, a support service for women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking.

She says regulation of the sex trade has already been tried and failed.

"What you see is that the sex trrade is inextricably linked, always, to exploitation, organised crime - and it requires numbers of women and girls usually to fuel demand for the purchase of sex which simply can't be met - ever - by those who would say they freely choose it," she told Newstalk Breakfast.

"So therefore it is always going to target vulnerability."

"Certainly in reading into Deputy Halligan's comments, an awful lot of it is about the right to buy sex - as opposed to protecting the person who's in prostitution."

"What has happened in Germany is that instead of giving more power to the person who's actually in prostitution, it has given overwhelmingly more power to the person organising prostitution."

"You change someone from being a pimp into a business person."