One-in-20 international students in Ireland has come across ads offering ‘sex for rent’, according to a new study.
The Irish Council for International Students (ICIS) report warns that the housing crisis is undermining Ireland’s reputation as a destination for international study.
The report finds that more than one-in-ten international students have been the victim of an accommodation scam in Ireland – and just 11% of those reporting it to Gardaí.
It notes that eight-in-ten language students share a room with at least one other person and nearly a third of higher education students share a room.
More than half the respondents to the study said their mental health has suffered due to the housing crisis.
One Newstalk Breakfast this morning, ICIS Executive Director Laura Harmon said one in 20 people have been directly offered or seen an ad offering sex for rent.
“There are a lot of predators out there at the minute trying to take advantage of the housing crisis and the fact that there is very limited accommodation,” she said.
She said students are often targeted because English is not their first language.
“These ads tend to be quite vague,” she said. “The students have described them in their responses in the survey.
“They say things like, ‘Must be up for having fun with the housemates’ or ‘Must share a bed’.
“We've had other students that actually turned to view a room and they were like, ‘Where am I going to sleep?’ and the person said, ‘You’re going to sleep in the bed with me.’
Sex for rent
Ms Harmon said Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan has tabled legislation that would make it illegal to require or accept sex as a condition for rent.
The bill would also make it illegal for anyone, including publishers, to facilitate sex for rent arrangements.
Ms Harmon said the ICIS is calling for the bill to be urgently passed and for a clamp down on the issue.
“There definitely needs to be more awareness-raising around it, amongst the student population, but amongst the wider population in general because this is becoming more of an issue or at least more of an issue that is gaining awareness and unfortunately, students are being targeted; students that come here from overseas,” she said.
The report also notes that around 10% of international students live more than 15km from their college or school, while 10% also took more than 100 days to find a room.
You can listen back to Ms Harmon here: