Prostitution Law

This proposed prostitution law is going to run into the same problems as all the other attempts to deal with the subject because it’s fundamentally not amenable to logic.

I personally find the notion of prostitution revolting, but that’s not a reason to ban it.  I also find Youth Defence,  Bono and Fianna Fáil repulsive but I have no right to call for their abolition and in any event, this isn’t about my feelings.  It’s about the rationale behind the anti-prostitution  movement.  I don’t have a view on this one way or the other because I don’t have a dog in the fight, as the cliché goes.  It just seems to me that there’s an element of prostitution in just about every facet of human existence and it also seems that those who are against sexual transactions bring up issues that might be related, but are not intrinsically part of prostitution.

Human trafficking is a bad thing.

Pimping is a bad thing.

Walking the streets is a bad thing.

But none of these are intrinsic elements of prostitution, if we define prostitution as engaging in sex for reward.  After all, let’s be honest, what exactly is the motivation behind the bulk of casual sexual encounters these days?  Is it emotional involvement?  Of course it isn’t.  People are just having a shag and that’s fine, so let’s break it down a bit more.

Are we proposing to make random, unengaged sex a crime?  No, unless we want to jail the whole country.

Are we talking about making sex for reward a crime?  Well, if we are then we need to think seriously about what sort of reward constitutes prostitution.  Is it a crime to marry an ancient, soon-to-be-dead billionaire?  Is it prostitution to shag somebody who bought you a slap-up feed in a fancy restaurant?  Is it prostitution to have sex with someone who agreed to pay your electricity bill even if you don’t like them?  How about if you get on well and have fun while engaging in that kind of sex?

I’ve often heard people boasting about their activities on holiday in places like Thailand and been revolted by their talk, but I also have to be honest and say what exactly repels me.  It’s the pimping, the human trafficking, the desperation, the poverty and the abuse of people who need money by whatever means they can acquire it.  I can’t imagine paying someone for sex, ever, under any circumstances, and yet I’m not disgusted by people paying for sex, even though I don’t understand it.

But at the same time, let’s be logical.

Just for a moment presume that some woman was so overcome with lust for me, as many are, that she felt driven to offer me money, would that in itself be a bad thing?  Needless to mention, I’d refuse the offer, but that hypothetical situation there and then constitutes prostitution.  Everything else is an attendant evil: trafficking, slavery, abuse and all the rest of it.

And let me ask this.  In the absence of all these evils, if one person offers sex and another person accepts in return for payment is this any business of the State?  It happens all the time, you know, and nobody calls it prostitution.

Let me reiterate.  I’m not advocating  prostitution.  I’m simply trying to draw attention to the logical fallacies attendant on the debate, and yet it’s quite certain that someone will accuse me of promoting the sex industry, because that’s how people are.  Clear thinking is not high on the agenda.

So what should the law be about?

Trafficking?  Certainly.

Pimping?  Without doubt.

Street walking?  Definitely.

Having sex for reward?  Well, maybe not, since we’d have to jail half the country one way or another if the sex detectives did their job properly..



22 thoughts on “Prostitution Law

  1. Hello all,
    Prostitution has been around a long long time, I doubt it’s going to go away whatever legislation may be debated and implemented.
    I venture the opinion that the workers in that industry deserve the protection of The State, as in any other.
    I have to say Bock, I was surprised to find you think it revolting. I’d say it was just another sex act, albeit with an exchange of money.
    I can see there would also be the seedy end of the business though and revolting would certainly apply there.

  2. Nail on the head, Bock. All the things this new law is designed to stop (trafficking, pimping, etc.) are already illegal.

    All it’s going to achieve is pushing prostitution further underground where the nefarious elements will make more money off the exploited women.

    Does anyone seriously believe that we can legislate prostitution out of existence? People have been buying and selling sex since people existed.

    Then again, this law is being proposed by the same people who brought us the war on drugs and 131 registration plates. Reason and logic don’t have a place in our democracy.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they next propose outlawing rain for the month of August to help improve the tourist season.

  3. I agree with Bock on this (I know I cant believe it either.
    But I am assuming that (and its only an assumption) the the majority of sex workers are female, and the main calls for banning and criminilising prostitution come from womens organisations Am I right so far.
    or am I off the wall!

  4. Prostitution is now off-street, because with internet and mobile phones, sex workers don’t need to be out in public. It is the Magdalene sisters in Ruhama and the Immigrant Council of Ireland who are leading this, with support from various moralists. The Justice Committee excluded sex workers and have now recommended exactly what the Magdalene sisters want, which is sex workers back on the street, where they can be back at the mercy of the Church. The recommended changes in the law, in addition to criminalising the purchase of sex, are that landlords can be prosecuted for renting to a single sex worker (currently lone sex workers are legal, it is only “brothels” where multiple sex workers work fro that are illegal), sex worker phone numbers can be blocked on application of the gardai or a charity like Ruhama and sex work websites are to be treated the same as child porn websites. All this is designed for force sex workers back onto the streets. If it goes through sex work will become very dangerous in Ireland.

  5. “Just for a moment presume that some woman was so overcome with lust for me, as many are, that she felt driven to offer me money, would that in itself be a bad thing?”

    A bad thing? That depends I suppose.
    A fiver cover it?

    I personally find it all a bit sordid – the men paying for sex and women prostituting themselves – but I think making it legal,within parameters, would protect the women in this.

    I think there’s a book launch sometime today down in the Hunt Museum for this book –

  6. Can’t say the government have been leading this change in the law, Turn Off The Red Light Ireland are a broad alliance of organisations, including ICTU, USI, SIPTU, Focus Ireland, which have been behind this for the last 2 years:

    Though Ruhama were originally founded by two religious orders, looking at the current board of directors the religious members are in the minority:

    Just cause prostitution has been around a long time doesn’t give it some credibility, so was slavery. The main thrust behind this report is to reduce cases where sex is sold for reward but where the psychological and monetary rewards, in the main, do not go to the prostitute but her pimp/trafficker.

  7. Ruhama clearly has had religious origins and its office is in All Hallows,
    a former major seminary. Secular radical feminists in America and Britain have sometimes voiced the view that prostitution is a male crime, the male clients being the criminals and many of the women involved being forced through poverty into a degrading profession that satisfies male fetishist erotic desires. Puritan attitudes can be found in religious and nonreligious circles. Communist states outlawed prostitution. Prostitutes were sent to “re-education centres” and some convicted male clients were sent to jail. Remember that Cuba has sent many gay males (not prostitutes) to jail.

    I know that movie star Jane Fonda made a name for herself in the early 1970s when she portrayed a sophisticated prostitute in an interesting movie called Clute. She issued a statement at the time saying prostitution was a satisfying and rewarding career for many women. But she was criticised by may feminists, who declared that she overlooked the pimps, the mafia and police exploitation of prostitutes. I think the pros and cons of prostitution as an alternative career for women requires a lot of research and thought.

    For me, any man who says that prostitution should be legalised should be asked the personal question: Would you like your sister or female cousin to become a prostitute?

  8. Yes Ruhama is a religious organisation, the trustees are the Good Shepherd Sisters and Our Lady of Charity Sisters, many of the directors and staff are also nuns. The Immigrant Council Ireland is also religious. It was founded by Sisters of Charity who continue to fund it in regard to prostitution, they have paid for all the “research” here and also fund it to offer legal advice to selected victims of trafficking whose cases may further their campaigning on these issues. Ruhama and ICI are Turn Off the Red Light, the other organisations are supporters but not running the campaign. It is just one big misinformation campaign to convince you, the public, to go along with them.

  9. Anyone recall yer man, as reported months back, talking to two hookers, who were, in fact, two undercover Ban Garda, who were, unfortunately, for aforemtnioned, in possession of the more formal kind of handcuffs as opposed to the more, er, esoteric type of wristlets?

    He claimed that he was merely exchanging x-rated remarks and leering at the hatchet-faced duo out through his car window. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by two squad cars, lights flashing.

    “Put that double entendre on the floor.

    “Put your hands on your head.

    “Step slowly from the car.”

    Anyway, he was hauled up in front of the Beak with motely crew of kerb crawlers, all of whom were shamefully named by some national papers.

    According to reports, the Beak remarked, after one man applied for free legal aid, that if he could afford the oldest profession in the world that he could afford the second oldest.

    “Har fucking har, spiffing M’lud!”

    However, wasn’t our Learned Friend indirectly acknowledging that being on the game was a profession? If so, why not legislate accordingly instead of passing absurd laws.

    Meantime, anyone pimping out sheep. A friend of mine has this thing for leggy mouflons with low self esteem?

  10. To the question, would you like your female relative to be a prostitute?

    If your female relative were a prostitute, and please remember you don’t get to choose what all your female relatives do in life, would you not want your female relative to be safe?

    And, if so, why would you support a campaign remove all rights and safety from sex workers, drive the industry completely underground, and make their lives as dangerous and horrible as possible?

  11. Benno — think most men would be appalled at the thought, but personal distaste is rarely a sound basis for legislation. I’m sure they’d also be horrified to think that their sister of cousin was working as a stripper.

  12. The distaste felt perhaps has a lot to do with the fact the public here has such a horrific false view of prostitution presented to them constantly. The average Irish person probably imagines from the media etc that things like pimps, drug addiction etc are common. Prostitution does of course totally go against the Christian and societal ideal of sex belonging within a committed and exclusive relationship between a man and a woman, but it shouldn’t bother others if consenting adults that don’t hold that view are having sex in private where payment is involved.

  13. Many escorts prefer their work to working minimum wage jobs. An intelligent girl from a less than well to do background has much more time and money available for say, studying at college. For those who find prostitution revolting, one way to reduce it would be to make minimum wage jobs much better paid and further education more easily accessible for those of limited means.
    The seemingly crackpot idea of an unconditional basic income would also help. Sadly, the very people who are most indignant about prostitution are also likely to be discomfitted by any such progressive approaches to dealing with it.

  14. The Irish are apathetic when it comes to this issue. I don’t believe anyone could seriously look at this issue and come away thinking, oh yes, the Magdalene sisters know what’s best for sex workers, lets ignore sex workers themselves, all evidence and rationale, and do exactly what the Magdalene sisters say and fund them some more to do their good works here. No, that’s not what is happening here. What’s going on here is an unfolding tragedy for a vulnerable group in society, organised by a shameful group of people, supported by a shameful political and media climate, and the Sisters of No Mercy get to continue their abuse, because the Irish people are not going to stand up and say No. The McAleese report led to an apology for the “innocent” women abused by the Magdalene laundries, but not for sex workers, oh no, nothing changes for sex workers. Perhaps one day Ireland will face up to sex work, but that day has not come yet.

  15. Claudia.

    I have a reasonable grasp of the english language, i have read your thread 3 times and still can’t make any sense of it,
    Have I imbibed too much brandy?

  16. Claudia, as far as know the Irish government are not the ones currently forcing people in to the sex trade, its the scum bags the run it

    The Magdelene apology was for the many atrocities that those victims suffered, why would it include the modern sex trade

  17. When stuff needs shoving under the carpet, common practice airs prostitution to cover the shover.

  18. I recently wrote a story called “Handbag” about a young woman who was obsessessed with material things and who, when her boyfriend refused to buy them accused him of not loving her. This young lady was horrified at the idea of prostitution and asked her partner to turn off the television when a programme on that subject was broadcast. You can find it at

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