In spite of laws coming into force which criminalise the users of their services, hundreds of foreign women are still coming into Ireland to offer sex for sale.
The Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill criminalises the purchase of sexual services without criminalising those working as prostitutes.
The bill was passed in the Dáil earlier this month by 94 votes to six and was signed into law by the President on Wednesday. It means Ireland follows Canada, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and the north in introducing legislation designed to punish men who use prostitutes.
Opponents of what has become known as the Nordic model say it is only with full decriminalisation that the rights of sex workers can be protected. According to an article in Time magazine, the model “strips women of agency and autonomy” and “still means arresting, fining and jailing people over consensual sex”.
However, Ruhama, which works with women in prostitution here and believes hundreds have been trafficked into the country, says the legislation shows a strong social message enshrined in Irish law — that it is not OK for one person to buy access to another person for sex.
In spite of those using their services facing fines and being named in court, more than 700 women are listed on escort-ireland.com, by far the biggest prostitution website in this country.
The vast majority of those women were not Irish and many were only in the country on “tours” before moving elsewhere.