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Ireland: Prostitution recognised as sexual violence by Oireachtas Justice Committee

[Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, 16 October 2014, Dublin] The report by the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence has been welcomed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland as a blueprint to assist people who are being abused, exploited and subjected to violence.

The Council says the decision to recognise prostitution as a form of sexual violence is important and should form the basis of future legislation.

The Immigrant Council has welcomed recommendations to assist people trapped in violent relationships because of fear of deportation.

Responding to the publication of the report, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Council said:

“By identifying prostitution as sexual violence the Committee has again made clear that it is time for laws which will curb abuse, exploitation and trafficking. The members have reiterated that the best way to do this is to introduce laws which will target the buyers of sex.

The members have also been very clear that the seller of sex should not be criminalised or stigmatised in any way.

As a member of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we are asking the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, TD to include the findings in her consideration of future laws on prostitution.

In addition, we welcome the recognition by the Committee that there are people in this country who feel trapped in violent relationships because their visa is dependent on their spouse.

A number of emergency measures are being proposed to ensure these victims can be reassured that when they come forward they will be offered help, support and services rather than being forced to leave the country.

The proposal to exempt people from habitual residence requirements in emergency situations and to provide supports in foreign languages, with translators, are particularly welcome.

We will study the proposals together with other partners who work in the area of sexual and domestic violence and with the committee to ensure all the shortfalls it has identified are addressed."

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