The Irish government is considering new legislation that targets men who solicit women for sex and charging them with a criminal act.
The legislation is partly in response to fears that many young women, some underage, from poor countries are being trafficked into Ireland as sex workers.
Under Irish law women working as prostitutes can be charged as can pimps for solicting sex but a man who frequents a prostitute does not face criminal charges.
Under a new law, based on Swedish precedent that would change.
The Minister for Justice has asked his Attorney General to draft an outline law based on Swedish legislation that targets male clients and has halved prostitution over the past ten years.
The Swedish law bans men purchasing sex but not the sale of sex by women which means only men would be prosecuted.
A delegation of Irish interest groups, including the Dignity Project which helps trafficked women and officials from the Department of Justice recently visited Sweden to see how the law there worked.
Iceland and Norway have also now introduced the Swedish legislation in their own countries.
Currently, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 legislates that it is a criminal offence to solicit sex in any public place.
Ireland has a huge sex trade,usually serviced by foreign women working in massage parlors and apartments that function as brothels.
Under the new law telephone records and e mail messages of clients who call or email prostitutes could be used to prosecute them.
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