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Prostitution : Ireland prohibits the purchase of sexual acts

After a long debate, Ireland finally adopts the Nordic model, like Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada and, more recently, France (2016), but also Northern Ireland (2015) which was the 1st UK region to have the purchase of a sexual act sentenced. The Fondation Scelles greets this major victory and invites all to support this abolitionist outburst.

 

l'Irlande pénalise l'achat d'actes sexuels

 

 

It is an actual disruption that has just occurred in the Republic of Ireland: on February 14th, The Irish Senate voted the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2015, which provides for the suppression of the soliciting offence and the end of the prostitution clients’ impunity by penalizing the purchase of sexual acts. From now on, the purchase or the promise of purchase of a sexual act from a prostituted person in Ireland will be punishable by a 500 Euros fine or a 1000 Euros fine for second offenders (aggravated sentences if the prostitute is a human trafficking victim.

 

It is the outcome of a fight which was initiated as early as 2011. A six year-long rich parliamentary work: hearings, commissions, debates…simultaneously conducted with the unfailing fight by NGO’s, activists, prostitution survivors and over 70 civil society organizations which are gathered under the banner « Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) » and focused on one goal: end prostitution and sexual trade.   

 

>> See also :

On the debate progress in Ireland, see “Ireland”, in the Fondation Scelles global Report, second edition.

 

On the debate progress in Ireland, see “Ireland”, in the Fondation Scelles global Report, third edition.

 

A society option

 

The Nordic model is not only a law. Beside the prohibited purchase of a sexual act, the Nordic model promotes effectively another view of prostitution: “Prostitution such as it is and not such as it is fancied” (Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, 2013), that is to say an exploitation of the body and an abuse towards the most vulnerable ones.        

 

Other countries like Finland, the United Kingdom (and, may be soon, the gand duché of Luxembourg) have decided to penalize the prostitution client without changing their model of society. They have adopted restrictive, almost unenforceable laws such as the one only punishing the purchase of sexual services from persons who are trafficking victims or under a pimp’s power.

 

Unlike them, the Nordic model advocates a global approach of prostitution as an exploitation and inequality system through protecting victims and convicting those who generate or derive benefit from the system: clients and procurers.

 

 

Who’s next ?

 

To date, the appeals to the adoption of the Nordic model are spreading. Thinking over the client’s responsibility has become a compulsory stage in all debate on prostitution.

 

In some countries, the legislative process is under discussion, at a more or less advanced stage. In Scotland, the labour party which supports this fight had promised to adopt the Nordic model during its 2015 electoral campaign. In Israel, a preliminary vote by the Knesset in 2012 allowed a first advance. Since then, the debate has become general and the idea of making the client responsible is reaching the public opinion: in 2015, 54% of the Israeli population expressed their support for the clients’ responsibilization  (versus 22% in 2012).

 

Nevertheless, crowing is out of place. It is necessary to continue the fight to spread the Nordic model to other countries and to defend the new enforced laws in the face of political changes and objections by the pro- decriminalization fighters… In Canada, in 2016, Justin Trudeau’s government consulted the “sex workers” parties so as to consider reviewing the C-36 law on prostitution, which has not occurred yet. In Northern Ireland, opponents are gathering and Belfast High Court has allowed a judiciary revision of the law.

 

Nothing is ever definite. Through its publications and pleading actions, the Fondation Scelles, as a sexual exploitation international observatory, invites not only to adopt the Nordic model but also to check the implementation and respect of the voted abolitionist laws.

 

 

The Scelles Foundation in the press

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