A Derry sex worker believes the Northern Ireland Human Trafficking Bill will result in an increase in sex attacks on women locally.
The Northern Ireland Human Trafficking Bill contains a controversial clause making paying for sex a criminal act.
Michelle, who spoke to the Journal on the provision we protected her identity, said the bill which was passed in Stormont last week, would “not protect victims of sex trafficking”.
“I’ve been a sex worker for the last nine years and have been working in Derry for the last three years - this bill is an absolute joke. It’s going to push sex workers and their clients underground which will mean sex workers in Derry will be put at risk. I also believe it will result in a rise of incidents of rape and other sex attacks on women.
“The bill is designed to tackle sex trafficking but it’s utterly toothless. It will not protect the victims of sex trafficking and anyone who thinks it will is only kidding themselves.
“No bill or law is going to stop men paying women for sex - it’s one of the oldest industries in the world. Instead of demonising us why don’t the government regulate and legalise what we do so more of us can pay our taxes and national insurance towards more important things like the NHS.”
The bill was voted through by a result of 81 MLAs for and 10 MLAs against. Local Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs voted in favour of the bill.
Marie Brown, Director of Foyle Women’s Aid in Pump Street welcomed the passing of the bill and said she believed it would help to tackle the issue of sexual exploitation.
“There are studies which prove a direct link between prostitution and exploitation.
“From our experience at Foyle Women’s Aid we have worked with women who have become sex workers because they have been groomed or they are so desperate for money the only way they see they can help themselves is by becoming a sex worker.
“We are delighted the bill has been voted through and I have no doubt it will help to address this real issue.
“I don’t for one moment buy that being a sex worker can be glamorous or even a career - it’s not the right message to be sending out.
“We have a duty of care to help and support the most vulnerable women and girls in our society - I think this new bill is doing just that,” she said.