Irish music icon Christy Moore is leading a campaign to soften prostitiution laws in Ireland, calling for change that would prevent women from being charged with a crime for selling sex.
The newly formed Turn Off the Red Light campaign has been formed by a group called Ruhama, a Dublin-based organization which works with prostitutes.
The group is proposing that men should be charged with a crime for purchasing sex, in keeping with Nordic law which places the onus on men for soliciting prostitutes, instead of charging the women with a crime.
A number of high-profile male notables in Ireland, including Moore, poet Theo Dorgan and writer/director Peter Sheridan, brother of Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan, have lent their support to the Ruhama campaign.
In particular, Sheridan admits he used to think that an even sex exchange between a man and a woman was on the up and up, until Ruhama unveiled the violence and poverty that many prostitutes in Ireland endure, not to mention the conditions they work under.
“It’s frightening to think it’s the woman for sale, not the sex act. It’s a form of slavery,” Sheridan said.
Ruhama backers are campaigning to make it a crime for men to engage with sex acts with a prostitute. Current Irish law makes it a crime to solicit sex from a prostitute on the street, but it is not a criminal offense to buy or sell sex.
Ruhama is aiming for a new law which would ban men from buying sex from a woman. The law would still allow for women to be prosecuted for soliciting, but not for the sale of sex.