Amendment No. 1 is deemed out of order.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, 1993: Committee and Final Stages.
On a point of order, I am not querying the decision but I find it difficult to reconcile that decision with the amendment of the Criminal Justice Act in 1984 which made a similar provision for the commencement of various sections of that Act conditional on the introduction of unspecified legislation dealing with protection of people in Garda custody and the establishment of a Garda Síochana Complaints Tribunal. I am not expecting the decision to be reversed but I am just marking a query.
On a point of order, we have a limited time available to us for Committee Stage debate. A number of amendments in the Bill deal with the issue of prostitution. Would it be in order and perhaps more expeditious if they could all be discussed together? Obviously, they would require to be voted on or disposed of separately but it would avoid a repetitious debate and perhaps not reaching some of the amendments or not having them adverted to.
I would be happy to proceed in that way when we have dealt with the question of age which is the next amendment in my name.
This matter is usually considered in advance and amendments appropriately grouped. I take the Deputy's point but we will proceed with amendment No. 1a and I will have the matter considered in the meantime.
I move amendment No. 1a:
In page 3, subsection (1), between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following definition:
" `brothel' shall not include the bona fide home of a prostitute unless the premises are used by any other prostitute for the purpose of prostitution;".
The purpose of this amendment is to amend the definition of the term "brothel". There is no definition supplied in the Statute, for very good reason. I accept there is much case law as to what does and does not constitute a brothel and it would probably be foolish at this stage to attempt a comprehensive definition. As with the elephant, it is easier to recognise than to define it. Therefore, we should not attempt a definition of "brothel".
In relation to the definition of "brothel" one area should be excluded from it, the home of a prostitute. If prostitution is not illegal — and I understand it is not — the home of a prostitute should not be capable of being invaded under the provisions set out in the latter portion of the Minister's proposed Bill. It seems to me and to Deputy Harney that it is fair in these circumstances to exclude from the term "brothel" the bona fide home of a prostitute. We have provided a means of preventing that from being abused by saying in the amendment "unless the premises are used by any other prostitute for the purpose of prostitution". The place where a prostitute lives should not be defined as a home.
The other reason it is of significance to accept an amendment of this kind is that section 10 (2) of the Bill provides that:
In any proceedings for an offence, ...which is living on the earnings of prostitution,
it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that a person who lives with or is habitually in the company of a prostitute was at the time of the alleged offence living on the earnings of that prostitute from prostitution and was aiding and abetting such prostitution.
Prostitutes who have families and liaisons are adversely affected by the terms of section 10 (1) and (2). They deserve at least the same rights as the rest of us in relation to the privacy of their own home.
As the Deputy rightly states "brothel" is a common law term and means a place resorted to by persons of both sexes for the purpose of prostitution. There must be at least two women or men plying their trade as prostitutes in the place. If two persons are using the premises for prostitution, the place is a brothel and it is immaterial that one of them is the occupier. Therefore, the home of a prostitute is not a brothel unless another person is also using the premises for prostitution. The amendment is unnecessary and would confuse the situation. Therefore, I regret I cannot accept it.
I will not make a meal of this but it is declaratory of the common law, as I understand it. It says that "brothel" does not include somebody's home unless it is being used by another prostitute for the purposes of prostitution. I do not see why the Minister cannot accept the amendment but it is useful to have it stated in this House by her that the basis on which this Bill is being put through is that the term "brothel" will never mean the single home of a single prostitute operating on her own.
I was impressed with Deputy Harney's speech yesterday on this issue. I have some difficulty with this matter of prostitution. About two months ago a Sunday paper reported that a female prostitute in Dublin had AIDS, but there was no further discussion on the matter. It was stated as if it was the most natural thing in the world. It caused me great personal distress that no action was taken in that regard because AIDS is like a time bomb in our midst.
I spoke privately to the Minister for Health, Deputy Howlin, and expressed my concern about the matter, the implications of which are horrendous not only for people who have sex with the prostitute concerned but also for the families involved and for the country as a whole. It is necessary that the Ministers for Health and Justice come together and discuss the matter not only with the medical profession but also with the Garda and social workers. This aspect of the Bill, although well meaning, is a little too restrictive and its implications could do more harm than good. As Deputy Harney said, it is necessary to sympathetically consider prostitution and the reason it occurs. Perhaps a study group could be set up to consider the matter.
Lest Deputy Kemmy suggest that I head such a study group, I am not as great an expert in this area as he might think. I am happy with the Minister's clarification of this matter. It is important that prostitution carried on in the home of a prostitute is not deemed illegal and that the provisions of this Bill do not apply in those circumstances. I welcome the provision that a prostitute operating in such circumstances cannot be taken before the courts and fined or imprisoned. As I said last night, prostitution is a major social problem. In the main, those who engage in prostitution are vulnerable, desperate women, none of whom is proud of what she does.
There are two different categories of prostitute: one is the higher class prostitute to whom Deputy Gilmore referred, who is kept in a house or luxury apartment by a well-off businessman. Such a person could not be classified as a prostitute. However, the category of prostitute who operates on the streets, soliciting and importuning, will continue to face the penalties and provisions of this legislation.
All of us wish to ensure that prostitution is eliminated from public streets, not just because of the nuisance factor and the degrading way in which women parade themselves in these areas, many of them on the south side of Dublin city, but because it causes offence and annoyance to innocent passers-by. It is important that public streets and highways are not used for prostitution. I welcome the fact that the common law definition of brothel does not include the home of a prostitute unless at least one other prostitute is operating as a prostitute there.
I do not wish to take up the limited time for this debate. I look forward to hearing the arguments in favour of raising the age limit to 18 years. I am disappointed the first amendment was ruled out of order. I welcome the Minister's earlier comments — I did not hear them but there was a very favourable reaction from those who did — and also her response of last night to the comments made by me and others in this area. It is interesting that it is a woman Minister who is taking this progressive, liberal, decisive and courageous approach to this issue. Many men, if they were in her position would dither, be ambivalent and say that the matter would be reviewed and legislation introduced some months later. The Minister has acted quickly and decisively overnight in coming forward with her amendments which will be dealt with later.
If we are to seek to lessen the incidence of prostitution — it is unrealistic to think it will be eliminated — we must know who engage in it. I referred last evening to a survey carried out in Dublin which showed that, in the main, those who resorted to prostitution were people who had been subjected in childhood to sexual or physical abuse, people who had a poor standard of education, low self-esteem and who had come from a poor socio-economic background.
If we are to help these desperate women to find an alternative way of life we need to take an integrated approach that is very much based on welfare, education and rehabilitation. Many prostitutes in Dublin who were surveyed by the Rape Crisis Centre said if there was a drop-in centre with accommodation facilities there would be an alternative way of life for them because many of them who are sent out by their husbands or pimps are too frightened not to engage in prostitution.
In this Bill we are correcting a major anomaly in legislation whereby the problem of homosexuality was swept under the carpet as if it did not exist. As the law rendered it a criminal offence we assumed it did not exist. To criminalise a practice such as prostitution will not eliminate it. We must stop sweeping it under the carpet and bring it into the open, with proper controls, regulations and legislation. Prostitution is the ultimate exploitation of very vulnerable women. It needs to be dealt with in the context of further legislation or perhaps in the context of Deputy Gilmore's good amendment, which I support, which proposes the setting up of a task force to look into this problem. I do not have all the answers as to how this whole area may be properly controlled and regulated. We need to deal with this major social problem, particularly in Dublin city. We cannot rely on our courts, Garda and prisons to deal with difficult social issues such as prostitution, drug addiction and such matters.
I welcome the Minister's response to the comments made last night on Second Stage. I welcome the amendments she has tabled, one of which provides that the question of imprisonment for conviction of prostitution would not arise until the third offence. That is a progressive measure which indicates that the Minister has taken on board the comments that prostitution cannot be dealt with simply by criminalisation, charging people in courts and having them put in prison. We know from experience that just as in other areas of criminal law there is a revolving door syndrome in the case of prostitution in that people who are sent to prison are soon back out on the streets again.
I tabled an amendment, which has been ruled out of order, in which I propose that the Minister establish a task force to address the issue of prostitution. This is a matter that cannot be simply dealt with either by decriminalising it or by having it criminalised and saying that irrespective of how lenient the penalties may be, it is illegal. This is very much an area of exploitation, mainly of women, that has gone undocumented and largely unresearched. It is interesting that only one submission was made to the Second Commission on the Status of Women on the issue of prostitution, and that was made by a religious order. Very little is known apart from anecdotal evidence and information about the lives, circumstances and problems of prostitutes.
The Second Commission on the Status of Women recommended that an integrated approach be taken to this matter, involving a number of Government Departments and various agencies including health boards and voluntary bodies who work with prostitutes. The amendment which I tabled and which was ruled out of order — I hope the Minister will respond to it — proposed that a task force be established which would draw people from health services, voluntary organisations and the Garda Síochána who would consider in a practical way what needs to be done to help those women who want to get off the game, to identify at an early stage vulnerable people who become involved in prostitution and to attempt to steer them away from it.
It is not simply a question of decriminalising prostitution. I heard some comments on the radio today to the effect that it would be fine if prostitution was decriminalised because then men who wanted to go to prostitutes could do so legally. Prostitution is a form of exploitation and it should be dealt with on that basis. It should be addressed comprehensively. Even though the amendment has been ruled out of order, now that the Minister has responded positively to suggestions made last night about the issue of imprisoning prostitutes, I would urge the Minister to establish a task force to address the problem of prostitution in its wider context, to seek to address its causes and seek to help those people who want to get out of prostitution to get out of it, and to try to prevent people becoming involved in it. We need a wider approach than the legalistic approach provided for in the Bill before us.
I, too, welcome the Minister's positive response to the welfare aspects of the problem of prostitution. I am not in favour of totally decriminalising the activity. That would be a dangerous way in which to deal with the problem.
Perhaps I should have said so earlier, but the matter of prostitution will come up in a later amendment and perhaps we could deal with it then.
I will wait until later.
I am prepared to withdraw the amendment on the basis that it be clearly understood that this Bill is being passed over by this House on the basis that the home of a prostitute will never, as long as it is being used by her and her alone for the purpose of prostitution, be searched for the purpose of prosecution or other legal proceedings.
I move amendment No. 1b:
In page 4, before section 2, to insert the following new section:
2.—(1) A person who, being the publisher of any book, newspaper, magazine, leaflet, or other publication intended to be sold or distributed to the public, or any part of the public, publishes any advertisement therein, which advertises or promotes any premises or service in circumstances that give rise to the reasonable inference that the premises is a brothel or that the service is prostitution, shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) It shall be a defence in a prosecution under subsection (1) for the accused person to show:
(a) that he was not aware that the premises was a brothel or that the service was prostitution, and
(b) that he had reasonable grounds for believing that the advertisement related to some other lawful purpose.
(3) Without prejudice to the general provisions of subsection (1) where in a prosecution for an offence under that subsection it is proved that the premises advertised is or was a brothel, or that the service advertised is or was prostitution, it shall be presumed unless the contrary is shown that the publisher was so aware at the time of publication.
(4) A person shall be deemed to be a publisher for the purposes of subsection (1) if he publishes, or is knowningly connected with the publication of, or appears to the Court to be in effective control, either alone or with others of, the publication, and where any publication is done by a body corporate, the body corporate, and any director or officer or employee thereof who is aware of the publication, shall be deemed to be a publisher.
(5) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) of this section shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or a fine of £10,000 or both.
(6) In this Section, `publication' includes broadcast and cognate words shall be construed accordingly.".
This amendment relates to the prohibition of advertising of prostitution. The terms of it are to make it an offence for a person who, being the publisher of any book, newspaper, magazine, leaflet, or other publication, distributes such a document if it contains advertisements which give rise to the reasonable inference that a premises advertised is a brothel or the service advertised is prostitution. The proposal goes on to provide that it shall be a defence for a publisher to show that he was not aware that he was advertising a brothel or prostitution services. He must have reasonable grounds for believing that the advertisement related to some other lawful purpose. Where it is proved that the premises is a brothel or that a service is a prostitution service, the onus should effectively be put on the editor or publisher in these circumstances to show that he was not aware of that fact. The fourth proviso is that a person shall be deemed to be a publisher if he has a decision making role in relation to the publication in question. The fifth subsection is to put in place a punishment and to make it an indictable offence to publish such matters.
Without wanting to be sensationalist I mentioned last night that the current edition of In Dublin magazine, which costs £1.50, has three pages of advertisements for brothels. A good deal of thought obviously went into the design of these sophisticated advertisements and they could not be regarded as being classified advertisements. A considerable amount of money must be paid for the publication of these advertisements. I do not want to be unduly prudish or puritan but if we are about to amend our laws to punish prostitutes and pimps, what about the journalistic pimps who take large sums of money to advertise brothels in this manner? What about the people who are deriving a direct profit from the operation of brothels in Dublin? There are 21 advertisements on those three pages. I imagine there are thousands of pounds spent on advertising each week in that magazine. Doubtless there are other places in Ireland where similar advertisements are now appearing, although I do not know of any. If that is the case it seems that we are engaging in so much hypocrisy if we start posturing as being against the pimp while doing nothing about this. It is not a recent phenomenon. It has been going on for years and we have done nothing to suppress those who are exploiting brothels to subsidise magazines.
Will the Minister indicate how many prosecutions have been launched on foot of advertisements in In Dublin? I admire the magazine. I do not want to be too hard on it as it is a good magazine, but how many prosecutions have been launched on foot of those advertisements? Is the Minister aware that instead of advertising the premises the advertisers have now moved to a slightly different ploy by using mobile telephone numbers to immunise themselves from direct raids by the police. I presume that if it is possible for a customer to find out where to go, it should not be beyond the capacity of the Garda to locate these places. Will the Minister indicate the attitude of the Department and the Garda to publication of these advertisements, whether it is criminal under existing law, in which case it appears that existing law is inadequate, and what does the Minister propose to do about journalistic pimping or pimping on a commercial scale of this kind?
I endorse what Deputy McDowell said. The real criminals in prostitution are those who make huge financial gains from it. Neither do I wish to be sensational. It is not always fair to blame the media. Deputy Browne wanted to muzzle the media in relation to coursing last night, but I would not like to suggest that we should muzzle the media in relation to these matters.
The advertisements referred to are extremely offensive to women. Many of the advertisements refer to services for 24 hours a day, seven days a week and all major credit cards are accepted. They now have a service covering Limerick and Cork. One of them says, "All girls stunning, versatile and friendly". I find these advertisements extremely offensive to women. If we are to deal with prostitution realistically and fairly we have to deal with it in the context of the kind of amendment we are proposing here.
A few weeks ago I had reason to be in Budapest at a weekend conference. In my hotel room I read a small pamphlet about Budapest. It contained between eight and 12 advertisements in relation to these kinds of facilities. I remember being quite shocked that there were so many of them, not realising until last evening — I do not read In Dublin— that the magazines and newspapers also here carry such advertisements. I do not know whether it is that I am getting old, or conservative in my old age, but I do not buy the magazine In Dublin and I was not aware until last evening that there were so many of these facilities in Dublin. I was absolutely shocked when Deputy Michael McDowell brought in this magazine and I counted 21 such places, some pretending they are luxury health studios open 24 hours a day. I do not want to give them more publicity by reading out other descriptions of what they do. But I must say that, as a woman, I find it extremely offensive. I wonder why it is the case that these places never seem to be raided by the Garda Síochána. They cannot be difficult to locate. Even though they do not give any addresses, with the exception of one case, they give telephone numbers, so I do not think the Garda Síochána would find it very difficult to locate them. I wonder why it is that magazines feel so free to publish these advertisements, are not afraid that they will be prosecuted in any way or made to account for the origin of these advertisements, or who are the people who place them.
The posit of this amendment is put very clearly, ensuring that nobody avoids responsibility but rather ensuring that those responsible for encouraging or promoting prostitution, for making money out of it, either by organising it or advertising it, will have the full rigours of the law applied to them, that is if we are to deal realistically with what is a dreadful social problem of exploitation of women in a very fundamental, basic and horrible way.
I should be very glad if the Minister could tell us whether it is the intention of her Department to speak to the Garda Síochána in relation to these advertisements or, if they appear in other magazines of which I am not aware, confirm that the same rigours of the law will be applied to them. If these advertisements can be carried so freely in this city it must be a question of the Garda turning the blind eye, part of this attitude, "we will make it illegal but we will not enforce the law," and laws that are not enforced are laws that are not respected. It would be very hypocritical of us to pass legislation but not enforce its provisions in this very difficult area. Would the Minister say, if it is not a case of lack of will on the part of the Garda Síochána to enforce the law, is it the case that the law is not adequate to deal with the publication, advertising and promotion of prostitution?
We must deal with a number of amendments within a very limited time so I shall not delay the House except to say that I support the general thrust of this amendment. As a matter of interest, I do not know how its provisions fit in with the right to information other Members regularly advocate in this House. But I would say this, it is more than aiding and abetting a pimp to have these types of advertisements placed. As a legislature, it is time we faced up to the issue.
On one occasion I happened to be talking to a man who was conducting his legitimate business on a weekday evening in Deputy Michael McDowell's constituency who told me that, outside his premises on a Saturday morning, one could not park a car because of the number of men coming to and going from two brothels adjacent to his business. That was some months ago and I do not know whether that position still obtains. The other problem is in urban areas. One can discover this type of activity going on there. While, as a later amendment of mine states, I am not for imprisoning prostitutes or imposing draconian fines on them — particularly since it might leave them open to extortion, blackmail or worse — nonetheless, people who live off immoral earnings, who are pimps, or who are aiding and abetting pimps, should suffer penalties under the provisions of this Bill. I support the general thrust of this amendment.
I, too, want to support this amendment. In Dublin is a very fine magazine. Most people buy it to read what gigs are on, some people may buy it to read the advertisements, but Deputy McDowell must have been the first person to have bought it to use it as a visual aid in a Dáil debate. Mind you, In Dublin is not the only publication that carries advertisements of this kind. We see them also in the “Ooh, isn't it awful” style of publication which, on one page will have an article saying it is terrible, on the next page carry a full technicolour picture of a semi-naked woman and, on another page, carry advertisements of the kind about which Deputy McDowell has spoken. What it reflects is a double standard in relation to prostitution because what this Bill is addressing essentially is prostitution on the streets. It clearly talks about somebody soliciting on the street who can be moved on by a garda and, if they do not move on, can be taken in and so on. It deals with the question of brothels and of pimps. But the kind of people who will use their credit card, or the kind of arrangement in which the credit card would become involved is not your traditional type of brothel or your traditional type of prostitution arrangement. We are talking here about the classier end of the business which, by and large, has not met with the force of the law in the same way as has the more down market end of it.
I mentioned last evening that there needs to be a degree of consistency in how the question of prostitution is dealt with. I very much agree with the amendment. If we are dealing with prostitution in the way proposed in this Bill, if we are dealing wih brothels, people who control prostitutes and so on, then clearly it is nonsense to allow circumstances to prevail in which publications effectively can advertise services of prostitues without any penalty being imposed on them.
I cannot claim to be uninitiated in reading magazines because, travelling back and forth from Limerick on the train, I am an inveterate reader of magazines dealing with politics and current affairs. Therefore, I read the magazine referred to regularly. I might remind Deputy Harney that over the past ten to 15 years a growing number of those advertisements has appeared in magazines here, like other cities worldwide, where such activities take place. It is difficult to define a brothel. For example, it can masquerade under the guise of a massage parlour, or other things, for example, a prostitute can pose as a model. All of those euphemisms are used.
While I understand the tenor of Deputy McDowell's amendment and that his intentions are good, I must warn him that the cure could be worse than the disease. To draw a somewhat ridiculous analogy, if one banned funerals one could not prevent people from dying. Therefore, if one banned prostitution, that would not deter people from engaging in sex with prostitutes. However, I know the Deputy's intent, he is entitled to attempt to render such activity seedy, down at heel and sleezy. The Deputy spoke about journalistic/publishing pimps. However, I must point out that the other side of the story is also true, there have been very honourable journalists who have taken up the other side of the story. For example, June Levine in her book, Lyn. If Members want to learn about the brutality, horrors of street prostitution they should read that book in which it is depicted in a searing, terrible way. Anybody who reads that book will readily appreciate the violence, intimidation, horror, suffering, illness, even the deaths of prostitutes, sometimes through violence. They will learn all about life on the streets where a lot of money changes hands. Much of the time the prostitutes do not receive that money, it is taken from them by these people who play on them.
Certainly these advertisements constitute a growing industry in Dublin, perhaps in other places too, probably in the provinces; I would not deny that. Indeed, that growth industry has been not only in the numbers of brothels and massage parlours but in their accompanying advertisements published in the magazines we have spoken about. However, to ban them entirely would not put an end to prostitution. We would be fooling ourselves if we were to believe that.
I would say to the Minister that perhaps that is why this debate has gone off on a tangent she did not foresee when the Bill was framed. Indeed, the Bill is very timely in that she will readily perceive from our concern in this area that things are far from right, that prostitution and its accompanying violence must be tackled within our society sooner or later. Indeed, Deputy McDowell's reference to this growth of advertisements and Deputy Harney's comment that they are offensive to women should be taken on board. That is also why I commend the idea of establishing a task force or study group to advise the Minister in this regard. It is not something with which we can deal conclusively today under the provisions of this Bill. The Bill was not framed to tackle the problem in its entirety. If you like, it is a good byproduct of the debate. A full scale study of the problem is necessary, advancing informed opinion and information so that we can debate the issue further and ensure that we get the balance right in this regard. I understand what Deputy McDowell says but driving people off the streets may merely lead to the phenomenon obtaining in other countries, that of call girls of a different variety, to perhaps upmarket prostitutes, services and facilities. While that might be an improvement in driving people off the streets it certainly will not put an end to prostitution in our society.
Since this is the first opportunity I have had to contribute to the debate on this Bill — the debate last night was restricted — I would like to congratulate the Minister for tackling the issue which arises out of the judgment of the European Court on Human Rights in the Norris case. She deserves the praise of this House for the manner in which she has dealt with that issue.
It is regrettable, however, that the issue of prostitution is also being dealt with in this Bill, that we have to deal with it in such a restricted debate and that it is being used to camouflage the very forthright and straightforward way the Minister is dealing with the other issues. Nevertheless, we are now confronted by a Bill that seeks to address the issue of prostitution, of people loitering in the streets, and kerb crawling. In this regard I find the reference to motor vehicles somewhat amusing. It seems that it will be all right to kerb crawl on one's bicycle but not in one's vehicle.
Or to hire a carriage in St. Stephen's Green.
It will be all right to do so in a horse and carriage or a galloping horse along Merrion Square.
Or on rollerskates.
Because these provisions are contained in the legislation this amendment has been tabled by the Progressive Democrats in the names of Deputies McDowell and Harney. I am sorry Deputy Kemmy has left the House because his suggestion on this issue is mindboggling. He wants a committee or commission to investigate the matter but I wonder what field trips they would engage in in trying to assess how we should deal with these issues on an empirical basis.
I should say that I do not have any experience in this area but it seems — this is the reason we need more time to discuss the issue — somewhat odd that this legislation will create a number of new offences in the area of prostitution, some of which I would support, but will continue to allow certain specified publications to assume the title of "printing pimps" and, under the guise of respectability, advertise a variety of facilities which can be availed of by the general public and which are coded under the term of massage parlour or a variety of other terms even though everyone knows what they relate to. Indeed, it is a cause of concern, given that some of these establishments are unlawful under the current law, that there have been so few prosecutions in this area.
If a Martian was to land on this island and wanted to know what facilities were available he would only have to pick up certain magazines to discover where they were located and the likely product that would be offered within a couple of hours of his arrival. It seems that the Garda Síochána are not all that committed to the enforcement of the law in this area. That is the reason I wonder why it is proposed to provide a more draconian law in addressing a form of conduct which I do not in any way approve of but which gives rise to broader social questions which need to be addressed.
I ask the Deputy to make his contribution relevant to the matter in hand. We are talking here specifically about the prohibition of advertisements in relation to prostitution. The Deputy is tending to make a Second Stage speech.
The prohibition of advertisements that Deputy McDowell is seeking to provide for would make sense in the overall context of the legislation. It is odd that this should be exempt when so many other activities will not be exempt from criminal prosecution under the legislation. Publications may complain that they innocently inserted advertisements without understanding the consequences or what they related to and it seems the defence provided for more than adequately caters for this. On the basis that Deputy Kemmy is a member of the Government parties I find his contribution difficult to fathom and I do not know what he has in mind in suggesting, if advertising is not going to be prohibited, that a commission or committee should look into this matter or whether what he said reflects the Minister's thoughts.
This Bill contains some extremely complex and far-reaching provisions which relate to issues other than the issue that must be addressed arising out of the judgment of the European Court on Human Rights. It is only right therefore that we should have reasonable time to explore the extent to which the law should be consistent in this area and affect those who benefit financially from a form of human conduct in respect of which the legislation seeks to provide far greater penalties. The question must be asked why should publications be granted an exemption?
I ask the Minister to bear in mind, when she comes to reply to the points I have raised, the provisions of section 11 which states that a landlord who, knowingly allows his premises to be used as a brothel, can, on indictment, be fined £10,000 or sent to jail for five years, or both. I cannot see how it is right that we should hit a landlord with a massive penalty and allow well-to-do businessmen to publish magazines which have just as crucial a role to play in the area of prostitution by advertising premises and bringing people to the landlord's premises in the first place.
When reference was being made earlier to a commission of inquiry or a task force I was reminded of what Mr. Gladstone used say whenever he was found in the company of the ladies of the street in London. He claimed that he was there on a personal mission to reform them. Deputy Shatter sounded like him a few moments ago.
I had to send my party of local schoolchildren home before I spoke on this issue. As I thoroughly agreed with what Deputy Harney had to say on Second Stage I am perplexed by the amendment which has been tabled because I would have thought that she would follow through and advocate that prostitution be legalised and that brothels be licensed. It is difficult to reconcile what she had to say on Second Stage and what is contained in the amendment. That is the line we should follow.
It is ridiculous that this section dealing with prostitution has been included in a Bill which seeks to decriminalise homosexuality; they are two separate subjects. However, as it is contained in the Bill I should make the point that prostitution should be legalised, that brothels should be licensed and that there should be none of this soul-searching. After all, it is the oldest profession in the world, older than politics itself, and we do not want to find that Members of the Oireachtas were discovered emerging from such awful premises if they are illegal. We would like to see Members of the House of the Oireachtas doing so within the law.
Either way, acutually.
Or starring in a video without an actor's equity card.
This problem is being swept under the mat and I do not agree with that, it does not make sense. This provision should not have been included in the Bill but now that it has been included we should confront the issue. I would not support any attempt to increase the fines or to have fines at all.
The Minister should look again at this section. We are not facing up to the problem. It is the typical Irish solution to an Irish problem — to pretend it does not exist. Of course this problem exists, and will continue to exist, increasing the penalties will not eliminate it. This is a cowardly approach to a very human and real problem. I use the word "problem" advisedly. This practice is part of human nature and it will continue. This legislation serves no purpose other than to make us look even more ridiculous than at present in the eyes of the world.
I support this amendment which follows logically from the legislation before us. We should not accept the premise that it is somehow natural for a woman to sell her body to a man. It would be a misdirected liberal step to decriminalise prostitution, which is exploitative of all women, not just prostitutes. I reject the notion that this activity is part of human nature and will continue. All legislation in this area, including this Bill, should be motivated by a desire to eliminate this activity, dissuade people from participating in it and kill the customer base over a certain period. If there was an equalisation of the penalties and stigma of prostitutes and their customers, the customer base would be considerably reduced in the short to medium term. We should continue to work towards the abolition of prostitution, which is exploitative in the extreme sense of all women, not just prostitutes.
I closely associate prostitution with the terrible crimes of rape, child abuse and incest. All these crimes are part of the same activity, that is, the exploitation of women by men. I support this amendment which follows logically from the provisions on prostitution in the Bill. It is accepted by all the people working in the field that prostitutes are socially disadvantaged. Even if these women are not economically disadvantaged, they are disadvantaged through drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Even "upmarket tarts", as they are called, are victims of this disadvantage. I get very wary when I hear men saying that prostitutes should be legally entitled to sell their services. This endorses the premise that a woman can sell her body to a man.
I congratulate the Minister on introducing this legislation. I, too, regret that prostitution, a broad social problem, is being dealt with in a Bill which proposes to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults over 17 years. I should like to have more time to discuss prostitution, which warrants a healthy debate in this House. The feminist movement is divided on whether prostitution should be decriminalised. I do not think this issue is getting the good intellectual debate it warrants in this House. It is being dealt with by way of knee-jerk reaction. Many of the old clichés, for example, "the oldest profession in the world", have been used in the debate to describe prostitution. We should bear in mind that prostitution is also the oldest crime against women.
I vehemently disagree with the views expressed by Deputy Deasy. I would not like Members of the Oireachtas to be seen emerging from a brothel, legal or illegal. With regard to Deputy Shatter's confusion about Deputy Kemmy's comments, I wish to point out that Deputy Kemmy was commenting on a matter to which we all referred during the debate last night, the Second Report of the Commission on the Status of Women which puts forward strong recommendations on prostitution and the measures which should be taken by the Government. As Deputy Shatter is aware, the Government has accepted that report. I indicated last night that there is a reference in the report to three specific Departments — Education, Health and Justice, which are working together in the formulation of an integrated approach to this issue. This is a larger issue which will be dealt with separately; it is primarily a health issue.
I am not sure that prohibiting the advertising of brothels is the best way of controlling those premises. When brothels advertise their services the Garda authorities are aware of what is going on and are in a position to take action when evidence is obtained. Deputy McDowell and Deputy Harney asked for information in regard to the number of prosecutions of brothel owners. While I do not know the exact number there have been several successful prosecutions against brothel keepers in recent months. Instead of driving brothels underground by prohibiting advertising by them, with the consequent repercussions of this for the health of prostitutes and their clients, I would prefer to leave this aspect of the law alone.
I am aware of the type of problems with prostitution rings, which operate through a mobile telephone system, to which Deputy Harney referred. One of these rings got considerable publicity in my city a number of months ago when the Garda, through successfully intercepting the calls, were able to establish from where the ring was run, crack down on it and bring prosecutions. I should like to have discussions with the Garda about this issue — it has not yet been possible. If necessary, I might be able to introduce an amendment in the public order legislation to cover the aspect about which Deputy Harney is concerned.
The whole area of the policing of sexual offences is very difficult. As Deputies are aware, the policing of this area has been handicapped by a lack of up-to-date legislation. Issues such as the low level of fines, the difficulty in obtaining evidence and securing convictions and the fact that only the prostitute, and not the client, can be prosecuted have caused difficulties. I am addressing only a very small number of issues in the area of prostitution in this Bill. I am primarily doing this on the basis that, as we all agree, women should be free from harassment and, if possible, the existing penalty structures should be rationalised. As I made clear last night, it is not my intention to make any substantive changes in the laws on prostitution in this Bill. It would be better to deal with this issue by going down the road recommended by the Commission on the Status of women.
I was interested to hear Deputy Harney say that she does not read the magazine In Dublin. I do not read this magazine either. As Deputy McDowell was the only Deputy who indicated that he read the magazine I was inclined to think that people only read it as they got older. However, Deputy Gilmore shattered that theory. I have now decided that maybe women do not read that type of magazine. The road suggested in this amendment would be a difficult one to travel and I regret that I cannot accept the amendment.
I will not detain the House much longer. The Minister has explained her reasoning — if it can be dignified with that term — for not accepting this amendment. I cannot understand how the Minister can say she is afraid of driving brothels underground and at the same time propose that the running of a brothel should be a crime punished by five years in jail. One cannot have it both ways, one cannot say it is a crime to run a brothel, that we will put people in jail when they are caught and at the same time say one does not want to drive brothels underground. Running a brothel is either a criminal offence or it is not. I agree to some extent with Deputy Deasy's point that there is a fundamental matter at issue here. However, I do not agree with his proposed solution to the problem.
The Minister is not being either reasonable or logical in saying that the Garda Síochána consider these advertisements useful to find out what is going on. If they are useful in that regard it can only be that the people who run the brothels know that the gardaí will not close them down. If placing an advertisement in In Dublin led to an instant raid, one can rest assured that there would not be very many advertisements.
There is a problem of logic that the Minister is not coping with. I am not trying to be holier than thou or puritanical but if the landlord or landlady who allows his or her premises to be used as a brothel is liable to be jailed for five years and the man or woman who is running a brothel can go to jail for five years, it seems strange that the management of In Dublin magazine can get a blessing from the Minister today to carry on advertising them. I find that very strange indeed. The management of this magazine is better known to the Minister's party than to mine but I cannot think of any circumstances in which it is logical or right to allow them to carry on advertising as this is helping the Garda to stop the problem. If that were true the brothel owners would not be advertising. I am at a loss to understand the policy being advocated by the Minister.
If this type of advertising is to continue the Minister might take expert advice in her Department about a case I read about in Kings Inns on the law of conspiracy and the production of the Lady's Directory. If two people agree to publish this magazine and if the printer and the editor agree — Deputy Shatter would agree with me on this — to print this magazine or if a person agrees to place an advertisement and a person agrees to print it, that is a conspiracy at common law at present. In the Lady's Directory case it was proven in England that there was no offence of actually publishing a list of ladies who were available for escort purposes, nonetheless the people who agreed to the printing and publication of it were found by the English courts to be parties to an unlawful conspiracy.
The law of conspiracy is always unsatisfactory but if the management of this magazine are part of a conspiracy, then perhaps that might be investigated but it might be more to the point for the Minister to accept an amendment of the kind I am suggesting and say it is a crime to publish an advertisement for a brothel just as much as it is a crime to allow premises to be used as a brothel. Will the Minister withdraw what I consider to be an illogcial proposition that these advertisements are helpful to the gardaí? If they are helpful to the Garda in the sense that they stop prostitution, all I can say is that it is like turkeys voting for an early Christmas to advertise in In Dublin magazine. I do not believe that is true. The reality is that for some reason there is an unwillingness to implement the law in relation to brothels and therefore section 11 is, as I said last night — and I am not saying so in an offensive way — a counterweight to the moral majority, especially in the Fianna Fáil Party to make them think that the Minister is getting tough on sex crimes, when in fact she is not.
The Minister's attitude to this amendment shows that brothels will continue in Dublin, and nothing effective will be done about them.
I was very disappointed with the Minister's response and it confirms the view I have that it is believed if we turn a blind eye the problem will go away. When me enact legislation we have to be consistent in implementing and enforcing it. I share the Minister's view that by making something illegal we may drive those responsible underground. That is the reason I do not wish to see prostitutes or prostitution criminalised.
It is not illegal to pay money for sex here; it was not under existing law and it will not be the case after this becomes law. Prostitution itself is not illegal and it never was. I do not think a great many people understand that, but it is a fact. What is illegal is to solicit or importune in public or to have a brothel. It is not illegal for a prostitute in her own house to be paid for sex and that will not be an offence after this becomes law either. We need to recognise that. Deputy Deasy seems to think that there is some contradiction between what I said yesterday and what I am suggesting now. I do not want to see prostitution criminalised in any sense.
I do not think the criminal prosecution process is the way to deal with prostitution. It is a huge social problem, not just for the prostitutes who in the main are vulnerable and exploited although I accept there is an upper class prostitute who might not be regarded as vulnerable in the socio-economic sense. Any woman who sells her body for sex has to be vulnerable and desperate whether she comes from a low socio-economic background or not. It is a desperate social problem and it is also a desperate problem from those clients who use the services of prostitutes, many of whom are married men. Members may read an account of prostitutes lives in a survey from which I wish to quote. I do not want to read it into the record because I do not want a headline in tomorrow's paper to the effect: "Harney says Mr. X, Y and Z professional gentlemen is using prostitutes". All the leading and influential groups in our society seem to use the services of prostitutes, if we are to believe what the prostitutes tell us.
I find it very interesting that some groups here had been willing to take cases against the Rape Crisis Centre and the Well Woman Centre for selling condoms but never took a case against the brothels. They seem to be prepared to accept that 21 advertisements for this service appeared in In Dublin. It shocked me that so many advertise but this shows the scale and extent of prostitution. I feel very strongly that it is the vulnerable women who are on the street in certain parts of Dublin who will be caught under the provisions of this Bill and were caught under the provisions of the existing legislation. The people who seek these kinds of facilities, that are not legal at present will not come under the eye of the law because the Minister is going to turn a blind eye to them. I do not think any Minister for Justice could advocate that something that is illegal should be advertised. That is a recipe for disaster and is a very bad precedent. It will continue to allow us to sweep this huge social issue under the carpet. However, it will not go away. It will not stop prostitutes being beaten up and victimised. I do not believe that prostitution or prostitutes should be stigmatised. I do not think that is right or appropriate. We have to approach this on a human rights basis, even if we thoroughly disapprove of what people do. We have to respect them and see them as equal.
The essential reason for this Bill is to deal with homosexuality. Perhaps we will get another opportunity in the Select Committee on Legislation and Security to carry out a comprehensive examination of this huge social issue. We need to have consistent and realistic laws that deal in a very fair and reasonable way with this problem.
My concern is that those who promote prostitution and make money from it are those who should be criminalised if we are to have criminal prosecutions. They will continue to escape if we continue to take the attitude that it is all right to have these advertisements. I do not like disagreeing with my colleague, Deputy McDowell, but to be fair to the Minister I do not think her reasoning is based on any connection that the management of In Dublin have with the Fianna Fáil Party.
I was not suggesting that.
If members of parties are connected to certain promotions others read all types of conspiracy into it. To avoid the possibility of a conspiracy perhaps the brothel owners should also run the magazine because as I understand it it takes two people to have a conspiracy. If the brothel owners are producing the magazine there cannot be any conspiracy prosecutions and that might overcome that technicality. I am not a lawyer and I bow to the expertise of Deputy McDowell on this. Will the Minister establish a working group drawn from the voluntary bodies and Government Departments to look at prostitution and make recommendations for change in this area?
I should like to respond to one or two points the Minister made as well as a matter which Deputy McDowell raised. Deputy McDowell made the point that if we do not adopt this provision people who publish advertisements of this nature may be committing a criminal offence. I agree with the view expressed by Deputy Harney to the extent that people who exploit women, promote prostitution and live off the earnings of women, many of whom are victims of our society, are the people to whom the law should be directed. That is how I view this matter. That is why I find it extraordinary that the issue of these advertisements is not addressed in the Bill, while regretting the fact that the Bill is addressing this issue at all because this topic was for another day.
With regard to the Minister's response to me, I am well aware of what the Commission on the Status of Women recommend. It is sad that we are rushing into the particular aspects of this Bill without implementing the recommendations on the Commission on the Status of Women without consistently taking into account the concerns they express. Unless I missed something it did not appear to me that Deputy Kemmy dwelt on the Commission on the Status of Women, but rather the need for a new task force, forum or committee to investigate something further. That was my understanding of this contribution.
In the context of Deputy McDowell's amendment, at least we would know what the law is in regard to advertising the services of prostitutes or the availability of brothels. It sets out a clear set of provisions which state the circumstances in which a prosecution can ensue and sets out the defences. Deputy McDowell postulated that if this amendment was not accepted that perhaps a conspiracy charge would lay against the publishers of such publications, and referred to an English law case.
I should like to bring to the attention of the House a more interesting and more immediate Irish law case which sets out the path although it may not clearly indicate the sentence. It is a corollary of the point made by Deputy McDowell. As everyone knows bigamy is a criminal offence just as under this legislation there will be particular offences. I recall an Irish law case in the mid-sixties which I am sure Deputy McDowell will remember — there was a similar case in the fifties — in which a priest married a couple in circumstances where the Church did not recognise the validity of the first marriage of one of the spouses, which had taken place in a registry office. The second marriage took place in Church. The priest had the honour of being one of the few priests in this country to be convicted of bigamy as an accessory before the fact. Rather than being sentenced to seven years penal servitude, a sentence which could have been imposed on him, he was given a suspended sentence. Before the Ceann Comhairle calls me back and tells me I am irrelevant——
You are straying somewhat.
If we enact into law the offences provided for under this legislation and if I were a publisher and tomorrow morning published a magazine which advertised the addresses and services of brothels, I would be an accessory before the fact to the offences that would be committed. It would seem to me that a prosecution would ensue in the same way as the hapless priest was prosecuted. A phrase which is becoming worn by its usage, an Irish solution to an Irish problem, was mentioned earlier. As a country we are in the rather odd position where thousands of couples have been remarried in Church, following Church annulments, in circumstances where their marriages are bigamous. The priests officiating at those marriages are equally open to prosecution as was the priest in the sixties and could be convicted of bigamy, yet we turn a blind eye. In the absence of Deputy McDowell's amendment it is equally intended that a blind eye be turned in this context.
I am not sure whether these particular issues should have had a place in the main intent of this legislation. If are to be consistent it would be only right that an amendment on these lines be included in this Bill. If it is not to be in the form of Deputy McDowell's amendment perhaps the Minister would consider having another look at it in the context of the Seanad dealing with the Bill. To say that such advertisements would drive all the brothels underground is odd in view of the fact that the provisions in the legislation create a series of offences in relation to brothels and make it an offence for a landlord to let a premises with the knowledge that such premises, or part thereof would be used as a brothel. Deputy McDowell referred to Gladstone but I suppose we should not bring too many English politicians into all of this. The section in relation to landlords might have caused certain discomfort to the poor, hapless ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain, Mr. Norman Lamont. It would seem to me that the amendment would equally cause him concern if he had advertised——
We should not advert to names — I do not mind historical ones — of more recent origins.
The reference to the ex-Chancellor is now an historical one, at least politically. It is odd to make it an offence for a landlord to let a premises to be used as a brothel, for the lessor of a premises to allow their premises to be used as a brothel, for both those matters to be deemed to create criminal offences and yet for it not to be a criminal offence to advertise the address of the brothel and for a magazine to earn money as a result. As somebody who is often accused of being combative in this House and on occasions causing discomfort to Ministers, I can assure the Minister that I am not going to suggest that members of her own party have any more interest in this facility or magazine than have the members of any other party. I am not suggesting that there is any conspiracy for her excluding it.
I see no reason that magazines which are effectively exploiting women, their bodies and their circumstances, to make money for themselves to keep their magazines afloat should be left free to advertise the availability of these types of services. That is offensive, unnecessary, exploitive and should be as much against the law as a landlord knowingly making his premises available for use as a brothel. If we are to tackle this issue we should tackle the exploiters and not necessarily further criminalise women who are the victims of the activities in which they are engaging.
I agree with Deputy Harney that it is extraordinary that people who had been so quick to take various organisations to court over the supply of information have been so slow to take up this issue. I recall within the last year, that the Guardian newspaper was impounded at Customs and not allowed in here because it contained an advertisement for the Marie Stokes clinic. Student unions were taken to court and are still liable to pay large sums in legal costs because they published information in student guides and student magazines. Even in Dublin city and county publications such as Every Women, which deals with women's health matters, were taken off the shelves of public libraries because it was deemed not to be in accord with some standard of public morality. Here we have a situation where it is possible to advertise prostitution services in publications which the Minister is prepared to defend.
I was surprised the Minister did not accept the amendment; in fact, I was taken aback by her rejection of it. Perhaps she is somewhat disorientated because all the support and praise for the Bill is coming from the opposite side of the House and opposition to it is coming from behind her. What she said on this Bill defies logic. On the one hand she stated that to run a brothel is illegal, but on the other to advertise such a brothel is not to be illegal from the point of view of the publication and that in some way it will be part of Garda strategy in tracking down brothels to have the proprietors brought before the courts. If one were to extend that logic one could foresee advertisements appearing in newspapers for quantities of a stimulating white powdery substance, or an enterprising entrepreneur in the Minister's constituency might wish to advertise quantities of a clear white liquid which is 100 per cent proof.
Which would be available only after hours.
The logic does not follow and, therefore, the Minister should reconsider the amendment.
This issue has been ignored in the past and, as Deputies Michael McDowell and Frances Fitzgerald are aware, it is a serious problem in Dublin South-East. The majority of brothels advertised in In Dublin are located in our constituency. This is a major concern for residents who live near them and many people will welcome much of what is contained in this Bill. I am constantly plagued by people, especially women, who are sick and tired of being stopped on their way home at night and approached by men in cars. I agree with the idea behind what Deputies McDowell and Harney are trying to do in their amendment in regard to advertisements in the In Dublin magazine. However, the people who advertise their premises in that magazine could change the advertisement to a personal one, as they do in other countries. Such people do not stay in the same place for long. They move constantly from one building to another and use mobile telephones. They drive the residents of an apartment block crazy for about six months and when they come under pressure they move out, but still use the same telephone number. It will be difficult to put a stop to their practices. In my constituency the Garda are constantly following such people. In fact, a brothel was set up next door to one of the police stations in my constituency and it took the Garda nine months to have the place closed down, following much pressure from the residents of the apartment block involved. This is not a simple matter to resolve. I agree with the Deputies' views and I welcome the fact that the Minister proposes to deal with this matter in a public order Bill. However, as I stated already such people will place a personal advertisement in the magazine and move on.
It will mean less money for In Dublin.
I am not interested in In Dublin. I am more concerned about solving this problem for the people who must live beside such premises. In the majority of cases it is women who are stopped by men while entering their apartment blocks late at night. This can be a terrifying and an annoying experience for them. Therefore, I do not believe the Deputies' amendment will achieve what it sets out to do. However, the Minister must examine the issue because it is a serious problem in my constituency.
When I spoke on Second Stage last night I indicated to the Minister that it was unfortunate she had added these sections to a Bill dealing with homosexuality and I am sure she understands now why some Deputies hold that view. There is a need for a separate debate on the issue of prostitution. We need to examine the reasons why women get involved in it because, by and large, it is mostly women who are involved in prostitution. We must also examine why people use prostitution. However, I am glad we are having this debate today but I hope we will have another opportunity to debate the subject. Prostitution is somewhat like the horrific crime of incest. Many people here will not accept that prostitutes are working in this city, in Galway and other cities and towns around the country and that respectable men who are pillars of society use the services provided by brothels. Regardless of whether it is euphemistically called a full body massage or whatever, it is still a form of prostitution.
It is interesting to note that the one submission to the report of the Second Commission for the Status of Women was not from any of the groups who demand rights for the protection of women, children and the family, but from an order of religious sisters who provide support in a low key practical manner over a long period for women involved in prostitution. That submission urged the adoption of strategies which would recognise the dignity of all women, irrespective of their conditions, based on women's right to choice, self-determination, non-stigmatisation and non-victimisation. Those religious sisters obviously recognise the difficulties of women forced into prostitution.
I accept that a percentage of women working the streets and brothels here are from across the water, but some women are forced into that type of lifestyle because their husbands have abandoned them and left them to care for the children. Some of the saddest interviews I have seen on television or heard on radio were from young deserted or battered mothers with small children and no means of income who find that the only way they can make money to rear their children is by selling their bodies. It is a sad indictment on our society that Irish women have to get involved in prostitution and the people who use such services are even a sadder indictment on our society. Deputy Shatter correctly stated that to make a particular service illegal and not make the advertising of it illegal is contradictory.
It is not illegal.
I accept that running a brothel is illegal and advertising it does not appear to be illegal. When the Minister stated that the Garda found such advertisements useful, I assume she meant that they found them useful to bring prosecutions but they are not. That begs the question in regard to what other reason the Garda find them useful. I do not wish to impugn the character of any member of the Garda Síochána, but the Minister might follow that line of reasoning through in her reply and tell us why the Garda find it useful to have a copy of In Dublin on a desk of every Garda station. I have no doubt it makes interesting reading and the atmosphere in Garda stations can be dull from time to time. I am being somewhat facetious, but I would like the Minister to explain why the Garda find those advertisements useful and why the Minister believes such advertisements should be allowed to continue. Is the bringing of prosecutions the only reason?
It is interesting to note that the people who get involved in prostitution are frequently the victims of child sexual abuse. The Law Reform Commission consultation paper on child sexual abuse states that reports on drug abusers, juvenile offenders, adolescent runaways, prostitutes and adults with sexual dysfunctions show that a high proportion of those troubled individuals were sexually victimised as children. As a result they have grown up with warped ideas about their sexuality and frequently — it is amost a death wish — they find themselves in that type of lifestyle.
In dealing with the issue of prostitution, providing the kind of services about which Deputy Harney spoke and recommended in the Commission's report, including an integrated approach involving the Departments of Health, Education, Social Welfare and Justice, interested voluntary organisations and people like those religious sisters, we must look at what drives women into prostitution. Deputy Deasy made the case that people seem to want this service and that it would be better if it came out in the open and brothels made legal. I would rather see society get to the stage where we do not need prostitution, where we do not have people whose sexual needs cannot be answered without going to prostitutes, without using all sorts of relief agencies, if I can call them that in a general way, to satisfy their sexual needs. I wish we had reached that stage of maturity. We cannot separate the kind of prostitution in this city — and, indeed, in the country — from the kind of society where there is an acceptance that it is all right for men to abandon their wives leaving them with children to rear with no acceptance of their responsibility. The Minister should find it easy to accept this amendment because there is logic in moving from saying that the services advertised are illegal to saying that the very act of advertising them should be illegal. This is all the more reason a mechanism should be found for putting some of these sections of the Bill down for further discussion at the appropriate committee.
I was not here when Committee Stage started as I was involved in another meeting but I have not yet heard the Minister give any good compelling reason for including this in the Bill. I have not been lobbied. I have all these other letters about homosexuality from Dublin South Political Awareness and the Canadian Intelligence Unit, whoever they may be, but I have had no letters and not a single representation asking for legislation on prostitution. Perhaps the Minister might enlighten us as to whether the door of the Department is being beaten down by people who want this legislation. If it is, then I will accept that there is a case for it. However, the Commission on the Status of Women received one submission and it was a caring, compassionate submission looking for recognition of the wrong done to those women and a realisation of the services they require to assist them to break away from this kind of lifestyle. We all know of the stories around the city. I will finish by reminding people in this House of the kind of life that some prostitutes lead. I am sure many Deputies have read the book entitled Lyn — A Story of Prostitution which deals with the lives of Dublin prostitutes and conveys the horror and, the risk of violence minute by minute of the lifestyle they have chosen. She says:
My jaws would clench and I would take a deep breath as I took up my position on the path. Then I would look to my left, then to my right across the road. Is that someone hiding in the garden over there? Who is that in the parked car? Are there two or three men in it? Then I would turn and peer into the bushes along the banks of the canal and say to myself "looks okay. Oh, did that bush move? What is that noise? Could have swore I saw someone lurking behind that tree".
Imagine living one's working life all the time feeling like that, feeling that kind of fear and yet in some way finding oneself trapped and not able to get out. We talk about the poverty trap. Some women are stuck in the prostitution trap and I hope we will have a chance again to have a debate like this where all Members of the House will be able to talk openly about this subject so that it will not continue to be seen by society as something like incest with people amazed at the number of cases as if, somehow, it has only started. We must accept that it has existed in society for a long time.
I would like to withdraw my amendment.
Does the House agree that the amendment be withdrawn?
I do not agree. We have debated this amendment for some time now. We are entitled to hear the Minister's further response.
If people want to filibuster and prevent other matters being reached, that is fine by me.
Lest Deputy McDowell thinks I have been filibustering, I was not able to come down earlier when the debate started. I was very glad that his amendment was still being discussed when I came down so that I would have an opportunity to contribute.
This must be the first time in history that a party has not been anxious to get to its own amendment.
I am merely giving way because a number of Deputies want to speak on the Fine Gael amendment. I think Deputy Mitchell is being subjected to a form of "pin down" by people who disagree with this amendment.
I will not detain the House long because I will make a number of confessions.
I had a landmark birthday a few weeks ago and one of the gifts I received, which I have not yet investigated, is a free aromatherapy massage with the Bach flower remedies. I hope I am not in for any major surprise.
I repeat what I said last night. The first time I was aware of the extent of the proposals in this Bill was when we considered it in some detail at the parliamentary party meeting yesterday. Deputy Nora Owen made a very valid point. All parties have a policy in relation to homosexuality. It has been top of the political agenda for some time. I, for one, confess to being a virtual innocent, an ignoramous in relation to this issue and not in a position to contribute in the way I would like. For example, I was not aware that the act of selling one's body was not illegal but that various associated activities are.
It is unfortunate that the Minister decided to include it in this legislation. I repeat the request I made last night, that these areas should be deferred so that they can be given due consideration in the Select Committee on Legislation and Security because huge issues arise here. I have looked at most of the report of the Commission on the Status of Women but I did not read the part on prostitution with particular attention. If I had been aware that this debate was imminent and that such substantial changes were proposed I would have made it my business to be informed in this area. Deputy McDowell's amendment, even though it is sensible in many ways, is pretty draconian because if one happens to be the lowly employee in a publishing company and the company publishes one of these, one would be deemed to be a publisher and therefore, subject to all the penalties.
Amendments to the Bill have only been available in the last hour or two. This is no way to deal with an issue of such seriousness and do justice to it. While some of the Minister's proposals are valid, particularly in relation to the nuisance of kerb crawling, none of them is being given due attention here today. Most of them will not be reached. It is not the way to do justice to a very serious issue. I appeal to the Minister to reconsider her decision to press ahead with these today, she should defer them to the committee on legislation during the summer months.
Unlike others, I believe the legislation on homosexuality should proceed. A commitment has been given and this obligation must be met. Regarding the other issue, time should be taken to consider it fully and to provide adequate legislation in that regard.
On a point of order, to enable us move to deal with other amendments Deputy McDowell generously offered to withdraw his amendment. There has been a long debate on this amendment and I understand some Fine Gael Deputies may be embarrassed by Deputy Mitchell's amendment.
The amendment is a Fine Gael amendment.
It is a Fine Gael amendment and that is why it is all the more astonishing that there appears to be a distinct lack of willingness on the part of Fine Gael Deputies to move to deal with it.
That is not true and the Deputy knows that.
Fine Gael should accept the offer made by Deputy McDowell. It is Deputy McDowell's amendment. Fine Gael should agree to his offer to withdraw the amendment and have it dealt with in the Seanad and we should now move on to debate the Fine Gael amendment.
On a point of order, I understand I am entitled to move this motion that the question be now put. If people refuse to have my amendment withdrawn I move that the question be now put.
On the amendment?
Yes, on the amendment.
Is it in order?
I am accepting it. I consider it has been sufficiently debated.
Will the Minister reply?
I agree with Deputy McDowell, as I also have a suspicion in relation to how the debate is developing.
The Minister should look behind her to find out where her colleagues are.
I take it it is agreed that the question be put?
I do not accept that the Minister for Justice should say that she has suspicions about what is happening here. This is a very serious matter and I would have expected the Minister to reply and indicate whether she intends to close down these illegal brothels in this city. Those brothels are advertised illegally. The provisions of this Bill make them illegal and they should be closed down.
It is not in order to have a debate on the motion which I have just put.
I take it that it is agreed the question be put now. I am putting that question on amendment 1 (6).
- Ahearn, Theresa.
- Barrett, Seán.
- Bradford, Paul.
- Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
- Bruton, John.
- Bruton, Richard.
- Connaughton, Paul.
- Connor, John.
- Creed, Michael.
- Currie, Austin.
- Hogan, Philip.
- Kenny, Enda.
- Keogh, Helen.
- Lowry, Michael.
- McDowell, Michael.
- McGinley, Dinny.
- McGrath, Paul.
- McManus, Liz.
- Mitchell, Gay.
- Deasy, Austin.
- De Rossa, Proinsias.
- Doyle, Avril.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- Finucane, Michael.
- Fitzgerald, Frances.
- Flaherty, Mary.
- Flanagan, Charles.
- Gilmore, Eamon.
- Harney, Mary.
- Mitchell, Jim.
- Nealon, Ted.
- Noonan, Michael (Limerick East).
- O'Donnell, Liz.
- O'Malley, Desmond J.
- Owen, Nora.
- Reynolds, Albert.
- Shatter, Alan.
- Timmins, Godfrey.
- Yates, Ivan.
- Ahern, Bertie.
- Ahern, Dermot.
- Ahern, Michael.
- Ahern, Noel.
- Aylward, Liam.
- Bell, Michael.
- Brennan, Matt.
- Briscoe, Ben.
- Broughan, Tommy.
- Browne, John (Wexford).
- Burke, Raphael P.
- Burton, Joan.
- Byrne, Hugh.
- Callely, Ivor.
- Coughlan, Mary.
- Dempsey, Noel.
- de Valera, Síle.
- Doherty, Seán.
- Ellis, John.
- Ferris, Michael.
- Fitzgerald, Brian.
- Fitzgerald, Eithne.
- Fitzgerald, Liam.
- Flood, Chris.
- Gallagher, Pat.
- Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
- Haughey, Seán.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Hughes, Séamus.
- Hyland, Liam.
- Jacob, Joe.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Kenneally, Brendan.
- Kenny, Seán.
- Kirk, Séamus.
- Kitt, Michael P.
- Kitt, Tom.
- Lawlor, Liam.
- Lenihan, Brian.
- McDaid, James.
- McDowell, Derek.
- Moffatt, Tom.
- Mulvihill, John.
- Nolan, M.J.
- Ó Cuív, Éamon.
- O'Dea, Willie.
- O'Rourke, Mary.
- O'Shea, Brian.
- O'Sullivan, Gerry.
- Penrose, William.
- Power, Seán.
- Quinn, Ruairí.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, John.
- Ryan, Seán.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Smith, Michael.
- Stagg, Emmet.
- Taylor, Mervyn.
- Treacy, Noel.
- Upton, Pat.
- Wallace, Dan.
- Woods, Michael.
I wish to indicate that I am accepting Opposition amendments Nos. 12 from Deputy Eamon Gilmore and 14 from Deputies Harney and McDowell.
Question put: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice for Committee Stage and not disposed of and amendments Nos. 12 and 14 are hereby made to the Bill in respect of each of the sections undisposed of and that the section or, as appropriate, the section as amended is hereby agreed to in Committee, that the Schedule and Title are hereby agreed to in Committee, that the Bill, as amended, is accordingly reported to the House and that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and that the Bill is hereby passed."
In respect of a claim for a vote in the name of Deputy Johnny Fox, as only one teller has been appointed for the Níl side, I declare the question carried.