Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ireland: Open door for sex traffickers?

Does Ireland provide an open door and a relatively safe haven for sex traffickers? The question is prompted by Ruadhán Mac Cormaic's feature Hidden world of the sex traffickers in yesterday's Irish Times. The article tells the stories of three women tricked into coming to Ireland for jobs that never existed.

Two were "put to work" as prostitutes straight away. That they were distressed and, in one case, crying, did nothing to deter most of the men who used them and some appear to have been attracted by their distress. One was freed when the Gardaí raided the apartment in which she and other women were made to work. Another was enabled to escape when a potential client, upset at her distress, got in touch with Anton McCabe, president of the Meath branch of the Siptu trade union. McCabe - a man I'd certainly like to buy a pint for - helped her to get out of the area and she now lives in another part of the country.

The third woman was used as slave labour for a man, his wife and their children. When the man began to rape her she finally managed to approach a compatriot on the street, was put in touch with a community worker and escaped.

Ireland is unique among EU states in having no law against trafficking. Last month Ireland signed the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings but that is only the first step on what could be a very long road indeed if the political will to do something about this problem is lacking.

Mac Cormaic points out that the Department of Justice had said it aimed to publish a Bill on trafficking by the end of last year, but this did not happen. Also, a promised provision for victims' rights in the Immigration, Residence and protection Bill 2007 was absent when the Bill was published.

Meanwhile Ruhama, which works with women involved in prostitution, says it knows of more than 200 foreign women who have been trafficked into Ireland in the past seven years.
Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is one of the youngest and best journalists in the country. His article is part of his Changing Places project which won the 2007 Douglas Gageby Fellowship. Previous articles in the series can be read here and hopefully this article will be available on the website soon.....

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