Irish Senators have admitted their shock and outrage at new findings on the sex industry in Ireland and the trafficking of young girls to work in the illicit trade.
There are increasing calls to criminalize men who visit prostitutes and not to pursue the women only.
The upper house of the Irish parliament has backed proposed new legislation from Justice Minister Alan Shatter after a state TV documentary outlined the growing problem.
RTE’s Prime Time show has exposed the chilling reality for hundreds of women who are brought to Ireland and moved from town to town on a regular basis.
Senators then debated how the programme outed the pimps who are bullying the women, many of them young foreign girls, and criminalising them.
Independent Senator Katherine Zapone said: “There is a very clear gender dimension to this problem.
“What happened in the education of men that they think they can buy the bodies of women to have their needs met? What happened to our men that they find this acceptable?”
Zapone told the Senate that viewers were left with profound questions as to how an investigative team could reveal such activity over a six-month period, with this same activity presumably known to the police.
She added: “There is an inescapable interweaving of trafficking with prostitution, and this exploitation must be addressed. We need legislation that can interrupt this activity, which is an absolute infringement of human rights.
“A consultation paper on trafficking and prostitution is due to be made available shortly by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. This consultation needs to begin now.”
Fellow Independent Senator Ronan Mullen agreed. “I regard as spurious claims that criminalising those who purchased sex made the situation worse for certain persons engaged in prostitution,” he stated.
“We need to make the lives of people who would purchase the bodies of other people much more complicated. We need to target and to hassle them.”