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It's the difference in being able to report attacks. The laws clearly don't protect us.
It's made everything worse. Legislation and public policy discussions around sex work in Northern Ireland have proven highly controversial, reflecting an acrimonious split that divides feminists: between those who believe individuals should be able to choose to work as sex workers, and should be supported in doing so safely, and those who think the industry is inherently exploitative and harmful.
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Canada, Sweden, Norway and the Republic of Ireland are among other countries to criminalise those who pay for sex. Outside of Northern Ireland, paying for sex is strictly speaking legal in the rest of the UK, although much of the activities associated with sex work — like running a brothel or soliciting in the street — are illegal.
In effect, this means that many aspects of sex work continue to be criminalised and remain underground. While some proponents of the Northern Ireland law have viewed it as trial run which could see criminalisation of clients extended to the rest of the UK, others think the law has been a Trojan horse for Christian morality.
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Though its objective is ostensibly to protect women, the effects of the law have instead put sex workers at greater risk of harm. Yet, in a interview with the media wing of one evangelical Protestant group Evangelical AllianceMorrow cited his motivation for the bill as stemming from a conversation with a director at the lobby group Christian Action, Research and Education, with whom he says he "share[s] the Christian faith", which became a "catalyst" for discussions on the "evils of trafficking".
Academic research commissioned by Stormont as part of the legislative process warned against changing escorts n ireland law. Susann Huschke, an anthropologist at the University of Limerick, was the lead researcher on the research project.
Sex workers often use shared databases to catalogue violent clients and alert colleagues not to accept work from them. This becomes impossible when clients refuse to share their real names, or contact sex workers on burner phones or hotel room landlines.
Ciaran Moynagh, a partner at the Belfast-based law firm Phoenix Law, who has represented sex workers in Northern Ireland, contends that the change has made sex workers less escorts n ireland to report matters to the police, and increasingly concerned about clients who withhold or provide a fake identity. Inthe first person was charged on the basis of the new law: a year-old man was found guilty of approaching a petrol station staff member in Dungannon in the early hours of the morning and offering her payment in exchange for oral sex.
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Months later, a year-old man followed a year-old girl in Lisburnand was found guilty of offering her money in exchange for a sexual act. But other cases have been less straightforward. Earlier this summer, a Romanian woman who was trafficked to Northern Ireland was convicted of conspiracy to traffic and money laundering, after allegedly helping to escorts n ireland another trafficking victim in her car to meet a client and sending some of the money she received back to her family in Romania.
She was given a one year sentence, suspended for two years. The review is now due to be published later this summer.
Elsewhere in the UK, Leeds has also introduced radical policy changes in how it approaches sex work. The scheme attracted national attention infollowing the murder of year-old worker Daria Pionko.
It has been subject to protests by local residents and anti-prostitution campaigners. Huschke, the academic who advised Stormont during the drafting of the Northern Ireland legislation, says policies to address sex work are often too narrowly focused, and miss the larger structural issues at play.
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Related articles. A hundred years of trouble: How an outburst of violence exposed Northern Ireland as a failed state.
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