What is the current situation regards sex work in Ireland?
In Ireland today most sex workers are ‘escorts’ who work indoors and advertise online. The majority are women, but there are also significant numbers of male and transgender sex workers. Most escorts are independent, though some work for ‘escort agencies’, who will generally take a fee per booking or a percentage of earnings from the escort in exchange for accommodation and other services provided.
Many of Ireland’s sex workers are Irish or UK nationals but most are foreign nationals. This should not however be confused with their being victims of trafficking which is exactly what anti-prostitution campaigners want you to do. It has long been commonplace for sex workers to choose to work away from their home, and now, with free movement of people between EU countries and cheaper air travel, it is only natural that there are many foreign sex workers in Ireland.
Prostitution – the exchange of sexual services for money – is not illegal in Ireland, but various activities associated with it are, such as soliciting in a public place, organising, controlling or advertising prostitution, sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
Most sex workers are not being coerced in any way, but there are some problems with exploitation, and to a lesser extent trafficking. The situation regards trafficking has unfortunately been greatly exaggerated in recent years by anti-prostitution organisations for their own motives.
The biggest concern amongst sex workers in Ireland currently is for their health, safety, human, civil and labour rights. Sex workers are already marginalised in Irish society and lacking adequate protection. Moralistic calls to bring in changes which would further drive sex work underground and put sex workers at greater risk are most unwelcome.