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I am an Irish sex worker of 17 years experience and although I now live in Scotland, I lived and worked in Ireland until 2003.
The current consultation around paid sex is in danger of being derailed. Much of the “evidence” is badly presented and seriously skewed. One of the chief advocates for criminalising the consensual and essentially private acts we engage in is Ruhama, who have based their campaign on the following statement – “75% of all sex workers enter the industry as children”. That statement is based on a study (Melrose, 2002) which had as its subjects a mere forty six women, three quarters of whom were engaged in street work. As only 10% of all sex work is conducted on the street, the 75% figure is not statistically allowable. It is being manipulated purely to create a moral panic. It is not based on fact.
Some facts – 81.7% of Irish clients said they had never met an escort they suspected was being physically abused. (Irish Escort Clients Survey, 2006).
Following decriminalisation in New Zealand, 93.8% of sex workers reported feeling that they had health and safety rights under the law ( Abel, Fitzgerald and Brunton 2007).
In the UK, 440 sex workers were interviewed and only 7% reported that being paid meant that they handed control over to the client. 85% of the women were aged 26 and over. 32.9% of the women had degrees whilst 18% held post-graduate qualifications (Jenkins, 2009).
Ireland has for many years laboured under the shame of its treatment of unmarried mothers in Magdalene laundries. It is time to stop marginalising and stigmatising sex workers who, ultimately, are inheriting identical practices.
The International Union of Sex Workers campaigns for the human, civil and labour rights of those who work in the sex industry, and for policy which is based on evidence. Evidence, please.
Is mise le meas,
International Union of Sex Workers