To Bishop John McAreavey

Posted as a comment on this article:

We must unite against human trafficking  – Irish Independent 8 February 2015 (whether they let it through moderation remains to be seen, if they do not it raises some serious questions about press partiality)

Bishop John McAreavey,

May I take this opportunity to draw your attention to the fact that your understanding of the effects of “End Demand” legislation on human trafficking is dangerously flawed?

Any form of criminalization of sex work has the effect of driving all those involved further away from the resources of society and providing an opportunity for organized crime to fill the void, which, of course, organized crime is only too willing to do, at a price.

Sex workers have no choice but accept this, because, in the real world sex workers are mostly women who, in varying degrees of disadvantage and, even, sometimes, life or death desperation have considered their options and realized that sex work is the very best of them, often not only for their own sake but also for the sake of their children. It is popular to present sex workers as intellectually disadvantaged and deluded, but in the real world nothing could be further from the truth. Sex workers tend to be of above average intelligence and if they are not grounded, down to earth people when they become sex workers pretty soon learn to become so.

Sex work is seldom if ever the problem it is always the best solution to other problems that is available. It is a hard decision to take that nobody takes lightly.

Whatever legislation is put in place, those women still have the same bills to pay and the same absence of other options (in many cases they have already been badly let down by society and will do anything to avoid more of the same). They are also faced with the same absence of better options (and in some cases of any options at all), so, whatever the legislation they general do not have any better choice than to go on working, so that, in the event of “end demand” legislation they will have no choice but accept whatever organized crime offers on whatever terms they choose to offer it.

They will also find it almost impossible to report abuses to the Gardaí. If you are beaten and your money is stolen it is easier to recover if you are not prevented form earning money until you find another place to work from because you have identified yourself to the Gardaí and placed your clients under surveillance and open to arrest..

Sex workers have as many ethics as anyone else (and often more, as they have usually chosen sex work over several easier options that involved dishonesty and harm rather than sexual services) and are horrified and enraged by all forms of abuse and coercion to the point of being more likely to take the law into their own hands than ignore them. This is one of the reason why coercion and abuse has always been relatively rare (none of Jack the Ripper’s victims worked for a pimp). After “end demand” legislation drives them further into hiding and under the thumb of organized crime, often for the first time they will be almost powerless to  address any form of abuse

I will not discuss Ruhama and affiliates for fear of breaching the Independent’s terms and conditions, but I will be happy to meet with you and answer any questions you have at any time. I will send you my contact details privately to facilitate this.

Gaye Dalton (my real name).


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