Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ireland: Ads Target Men Who Use Trafficked Women

IRELAND - Men who buy sex from women trafficked into Ireland for prostitution are being targeted for the first time in an advertising campaign that warns they could go to jail.

The ads, devised by Ruhama, a voluntary group that works with women trapped in the sex industry or escaping from it, will run on RTÉ television and Setanta Sports for a month starting this week.

Ruhama director Kathleen Fahy said the appeal was being made directly to the clients of the sex trade because new legislation makes it an offence to solicit sex from a trafficked woman for the first time, but also because the trade would not exist without its customers.

“The focus is on the users and exploiters of trafficked women. Without them, the trade in human flesh would not be profitable,” she said. “It seems clear that they have bought into the myths that sex is just another commodity for sale and is a mutually beneficial exchange and nobody is hurt in the process, but many are hurt.”

The ads feature an actress playing a young eastern European woman who responds to an advertisement for restaurant staff in Ireland, but arrives here to have her ID and travel documents stolen by her “employer” who puts her to work in a brothel.

The scenario is a familiar one to Ruhama who are coming into contact with trafficked women at the rate of one a fortnight.

Ms Fahy said, however, she believed the true scale of the problem to be far higher as Ruhama usually only discovered the women when they had broken free.

“We need a far more pro-active approach so that more women can be detected and rescued earlier. Ideally we would have a dedicated unit within the gardaí who could focus specifically on this very specialised area,” she said.

Under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act that came into effect in June, anyone found guilty of soliciting sex from a trafficked woman can be imprisoned for up to five years. Ms Fahy said she hoped prosecutions would follow soon...


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