One in Four sex buyers believe prostitutes trafficked, controlled or underage Criminal conviction and publicity major deterrent for buyers

Posted: 11th March, 2013

Survey on Irish sex buyers published by Immigrant Council of Ireland

One in Four sex buyers believe prostitutes trafficked, controlled or underage Criminal conviction and publicity major deterrent for buyersOne in four sex buyers in Ireland (24%) have come across women and girls who appeared trafficked, controlled or underage according to a major survey on prostitution published by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

In addition the findings show that fear of a criminal record, jail time or name in a local newspaper have been selected as effective deterrents by the sex buyers and are only surpassed by fear of contracting disease.

The profile of those who use prostitutes has shown they are most likely to be middle aged men (36% aged 25 and 44, with 48% aged over 45) who have completed third level education (41%) and are earning more than ?20,000 (70%) with just over a fifth topping the ?40,000 wage bracket (21%). In addition just over half said they were in a relationship.

The majority of buyers had paid for sex when abroad, mostly in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Thailand showing that buyers are attracted to destinations where prostitution has been legalised or is tolerated.

The online survey is part of a Europe wide project, ‘Stop Traffick!’ supported by the EU, and which over a 3-month period used social media, websites and chatrooms to invite responses from both Irish sex buyers and those who do not use prostitutes.

Of 411 responses, 58 were buyers of sex (14%) in line with international studies in this area.

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:

“These findings are an important contribution to the current debate on whether to curb exploitation, abuse and trafficking by targeting the buyers of sex. We have now heard from the buyers themselves that such laws would be a deterrent.

After fear of disease(32%) the fear of a criminal conviction (19%), jail time (17%) and name in a local paper (17%) is what the users of prostitutes fear most.

We know too that the image of the happy independent hooker which is being portrayed by those opposed to new laws is not the reality. 24% of buyers reconsidered a transaction because they believed the women and girls involved were controlled, unhappy, too young, unwilling or intimidated.

It is particularly alarming that under 25 year olds who buy sex normally do so in brothels, again underlining the organised nature of the crimes being carried out in our communities.

The fact that buyers generally have a higher income, are better educated and in a relationship dispels the myth of prostitution being used by people who are lonely, isolated or insecure.

We look forward to sharing our findings with the Oireachtas Justice Committee and hope it will form part of their deliberations as they continue the review of the laws on prostitution.