This campaign is part of the REACH Project (or REACH), which is funded by the European Commission. It aims to raise awareness of trafficking as a form of violence against women and girls.
REACH has three targets:
Women and Girls:
Raising awareness about the rights of victims and the free, safe and confidential supports available for women in prostitution and at risk of trafficking.
Men and Boys:
Promoting a message of zero tolerance of sex trafficking and prostitution as a form of violence against women and girls among men and boys. That’s this campaign - We Don’t Buy It;
Professionals and Frontline Support:
Developing innovative training and supports to help those who work with and provide support to vulnerable women and girls at risk of prostitution or sex trafficking.
REACH is the first ‘all island of Ireland’ initiative of its kind and is based on the work and expertise of a unique multi-agency partnership including:
The Republic of Ireland: the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit at the Department of Justice and Equality; Ruhama, the HSE, the Child and Family Agency, An Garda Síochána and Cosc.
Northern Ireland: the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland Women’s Aid and the PSNI.
Trafficking is a complex issue. Put simply, sex trafficking is the use of deception, threats, force or other similar means to recruit, transport, hold or receive a person, with the intention of exploiting them in prostitution. It is happening in Ireland today. There is no certain way to tell if a woman has been trafficked or not. But it is estimated that up to 97% of women involved in the indoor or ‘off-street’ sex trade in Ireland (in locations such as brothels and massage parlours) are migrant women. While this is not to say that all of these women have been trafficked, it is highly likely that a significant proportion have been.
For a more detailed explanation of human trafficking click here
What the law says?
In the Republic of Ireland
At the moment, buying sex is not illegal in the Republic of Ireland. However, some activities associated with prostitution are outlawed, including kerb-crawling, soliciting in public, loitering in public places, brothel-keeping and living off immoral earnings. The first two of these offences apply to those buying sex as well as those selling it.
In 2008 it became illegal to buy sex from someone who has been trafficked. But, the law does not provide for ‘strict liability’. This means that a sex buyer can use the defence that they did not know that the person from whom they were purchasing sex has been trafficked.
The current Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald put forward the outline of new sexual offences legislation at the end of 2014. This includes the provision to outlaw the purchase of sex entirely. This new legislation is currently in development.
In Northern Ireland
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, also recognises the exploitation of persons in prostitution by outlawing the purchase of sex entirely. Acknowledging the vulnerabilities of those involved in prostitution, whether trafficked or not, the new Act also decriminalises those who sell sex and makes provisions to support those wishing to leave the sex trade. There is overwhelming support for this legislation in Northern Ireland amongst politicians and the public alike.