IRELAND - The number of Irish women engaging in on-street prostitution has "noticeably increased" in the past few months, according to the outreach organisation Ruhama.
Gerardine Rowley, spokeswoman for the organisation, which supports women working in prostitution, said the increase in on-street activity was probably attributable to the economic crisis.
"There has been an increase in this kind of prostitution, which is a new emerging issue, a factor of which may be increasing poverty."
At the publication yesterday of Ruhama's biennial report, which covers 2007 and 2008, there were also calls for the criminalisation of men who use prostitutes.
Ms Rowley said of the increase in street prostitution over past months: "We know from experience a significant factor leading women into prostitution can be poverty. Some women in dire financial trouble may see no other option."
Outreach workers were seeing some women back on the streets who had left prostitution in the 1990s. "We do have women who come to us struggling and saying, 'We don't want to go back but we have debts and the bills have to be paid'."
She also said the more desperate a woman was to make money, the more likely she was to engage in "high-risk behaviour".
"We know men put pressure on women for unprotected sex."
A significant proportion of the 341 women helped by Ruhama in the two years covered by the report had been trafficked here for prostitution. The greatest proportion are now coming from Africa, particularly Nigeria...
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