A change in Irish law was meant to help sex workers. So why are they being jailed? | Frankie Mullen

Lobbyists say making payment for sex illegal targets punters. But in fact it makes workers’ bodies into crime scenes

Paying for sex has been illegal in Ireland for two years. At the time of the law’s introduction, proponents insisted that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, a version of “end demand” or “Nordic model” legislation, would decriminalise sex workers while targeting pimps and punters. Such are the claims of Nordic model lobbyists across the globe, and it’s with this idea in mind that paying for sex is now illegal in not just Ireland but Northern Ireland, France, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

Last week, however, two young migrant women living in Kildare, Ireland – one of whom is pregnant – were jailed for nine months for being sex workers, on charges of keeping a brothel, although in reality they were simply sharing the space. This week two women from Killarney were similarly arrested for brothel-keeping. So much for “decriminalisation”. To date, just one client has been charged with paying for sex.

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