Thursday, 3 October 2019

Questions (28)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

28. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised by an organisation (details supplied) regarding the safety of members it represents; the way in which he can ensure the safety of sex workers from abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40055/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 criminalises the purchase of sexual services and the soliciting or purchasing of sex from a trafficked person. These and other measures introduced by Part 4 of the 2017 Act form part of the Government efforts to target the demand for prostitution, reinforced through awareness-raising efforts and well-publicised Garda operations.

Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 specifies that, not later than 3 years after its commencement, the Minister for Justice and Equality shall cause a report to be prepared on the operation of Section 7A of the Act. It is a requirement that the report should be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The report is required to include information on the number of arrests and convictions in respect of offences under Section 7A of the Act during the period from commencement of that section; as well as an assessment of the impact of the operation of that section on the safety and well-being of persons who engage in sexual activity for payment.

While there may be many differing opinions on the best approaches to addressing this issue, I expect the report to provide important data to allow further consideration of the issues raised.

My Department is at present undertaking the groundwork for the preparation of this report, including through the funding of relevant research.