Monday, 15 June 2015 14:24 Written by
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June 1st was the start of a new law in Northern Ireland, which advocacy groups hope will help to eliminate sex trafficking. The new law criminalizes the purchase of sex altogether, so men who use prostitutes will face up to a year in jail or have to pay a fine. 

This is not a new concept, many states here have passed End the Demand bills. While many groups think these will only help the fight against trafficking, other groups have criticized these laws, saying it will drive the sex trade underground and increase the risk of the violence that victims face.

The SAGE project runs the First Offender Prostitution Program, commonly known as "john school," a court diversion program that has become a national model. The school targets first-time offenders and educates them on common misconceptions about who enters the commercial sex industry, why they enter it, and how it is experienced, as a means to reduce recidivism. The key to getting buyers out of the sex markets is to make the casual buyer think before acting; to interrupt the transaction before it’s made.

The other side says, not all prostitution is trafficking and like many other sectors, it includes adults laboring in conditions ranging from upscale to exploitative, from freely chosen to forced. Even so-called “victim-centered” approaches to end the demand disproportionately hurt women, leaving them more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation because they have criminal records, which limits their access to affordable housing and sustainable wage jobs. In a recent John Jay College study, almost 90 percent of the minors profiled participating in prostitution indicated they wanted to quit “the life,” but cited access to stable housing as one of the biggest obstacles.

So, where do we draw the line with these laws? Is there a truly effective way to end the demand? We’d love to hear what you think.

Read 4577 times Last modified on Monday, 27 July 2015 20:58

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