Ireland's Young Homeless Prostitutes FWD

Tom Boland (
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 21:59:06 -0700 (PDT)


Homelessness and Prostitution in Ireland 
Author: News from Workers Solidarity <>
Date: 1999/04/13

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

        Homelessness - Prostitution

The sex industry is expanding and is said to gross
millions of pounds per annum. Over the last year this
has been reflected in the increasing focus in the
media on prostitution. In October, a brothel keeper
was arrested and charged. In November, Young Fine Gael
passed a motion supporting the legalisation of
prostitution. It is now a popular topic on the late
night chat shows on tabloid radio stations.

This summer, an inevitable tragedy happened. As a
result of having to work unprotected on the street
Sinead Kelly, a young Dublin prostitute, was murdered
as she worked. Politicians and high-ranking cops shed
crocodile tears for the cameras. Few of them pointed
out that it was their stringent laws that made Sinead
Kelly an easy target.

Prostitutes can be, and sometimes are, charged with
soliciting when reporting attacks to the police.
According to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties,
this inhibits them from reporting attacks and
increases their vulnerability. A survey carried out in
1996, found that one in five prostitutes had been
attacked by clients, and that 11% had been raped.
Despite the media image of our Garda 'Siochana',
workers in this industry find precious little
protection from the cops against such attacks.

In 1993, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act
criminalised soliciting and kerbcrawling for the first
time. It gave the cops further license to harass
prostitutes. Anyone found loitering with the intention
of soliciting can be directed by a cop to leave that
place immediately. Failure to comply can result in a
250 fine for a first conviction, 500 for a second
and 500 plus four months imprisonment for a third or
subsequent conviction. In the first seventeen months
of the Act, 116 women were prosecuted, with only 12
prosecutions of men. Clients who pay for sex with
minors are rarely prosecuted.

Juvenile prostitution is directly linked to
homelessness. A new report by Focus Ireland shows that
homelessness has doubled in the last four years.
Focus, which has centres in Dublin and Limerick, dealt
with 6,000 homeless people last year. 788 of them were
under 18. The government says there are only 2,500
homeless people in the entire country. The Eastern
Health Board (EHB) published a Working Group Report in
September of 1997. Fifty seven people from the ages of
11 to 18 were reported to have been homeless and
involved in prostitution.

There were only six emergency beds for under 18s in
the whole of Dublin. The adult homeless shelters are
too dangerous for children and many of them don't
admit children because of this. It is safer for them
to sleep on the streets. If children do seek help they
must go to a cop station were they are put in touch
with the EHB. This is obviously not an option for kids
in trouble with the law.

The EHB social workers are obliged by law to return
"intentionally" homeless children to their homes. This
applies even if they left to escape sexual abuse or
physical violence. The next day sees many of these
kids back on the streets.

This negligent system leaves homeless children very
vulnerable to exploitation. Sometimes they will go
with punters just to get a bed and some food.
According to the EHB Working Group Report there has
been evidence of organised exploitation of homeless
children, but there have been no prosecutions.

The government uses typical authoritarian rationale
when dealing with prostitution. It will fine
prostitutes hundreds of pounds, forcing them to work
for longer hours on the streets to pay the fines. It
will also imprison them, which costs 900 per person a
week. The figure for running prisons in Ireland stands
at over 100 million a year. This will increase when
the new women's prison under construction at Mountjoy
is completed. A fraction of this money would house all
homeless kids and end much juvenile prostitution.

In October, a brothel keeper was arrested and charged.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act made it illegal
to live off the earnings of a prostitute. At the time
the Minister for inJustice argued that the
restrictions would "provide further protection against
the exploitation of people who feel they have no
choice but to prostitute themselves".

In effect it means that, whenever a brothel is closed
down, prostitutes are forced to work on the streets.
Chest infections, the flu and other illnesses are
common because they have to work outdoors for hours at
night. It also makes them easy prey for attackers. The
only "further protection" the law gives with regard to
prostitution is to public puritanical morality.

The Workers Solidarity Movement is opposed to the
criminalisation of soliciting. It only makes
prostitutes more vulnerable. It leads to further
victimisation from the cops. It creates a stigma of
sleaziness and makes criminals of already marginalised
people. We support the right of people to choose this
profession, and their right to work in comfort and
safety. We reject any judgements of these people made
by the church, the state or other 'moralists'.

We recognise that prostitution will not end until
capitalism does. In the meantime, we call for the
decriminalisation of soliciting. "Tolerance zones"
should be established where prostitutes can work
without harassment. Brothels should not be harassed by
cops or any moralistic laws.

All aspects of their business should be controlled by
the prostitutes themselves. It is only through
workers' control and not state control that
prostitution will be a safer occupation to work in.


Hey! Frank Fahy, can you even spell injustice?

CHILDREN as young as twelve can be bought in Dublin.
Boys in the Phoenix Park, girls in Benburb
Street/Smithfield. This scandal is not invisible but
government action to help these children is. Abused
children require special services, they need full-time
support and care. They have to learn how and who to

The Liffey Voice, a community paper in Dublin's north
west inner city, approached the Minister of State for
Children, Frank Fahy, in person and got his agreement
that he would answer a range of written questions. The
reporter faxed them to him. No response was received,
despite several phone calls to his office.

A spokesperson for the Minister said child
prostitution was not within Mr Fahy's area of
responsibility. The Liffey Voice was told that he
deals with children's education, health needs, and
injustices against children.

The Dublin government has signed the UN Convention on
Children, which states that children should have a
right to protection against sexual abuse and
exploitation. Frank Fahy refuses to acknowledge that
responsibility. After all, they are only badly abused
children with serious problems. You couldn't expect a
Minister to involve himself with stuff like that,
could you.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 56
published in March 1999
More articles from this issue at
Email us at

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 56
published in March 1999
More articles from this issue at

>From Irelands's Workers Solidarity Movement
Email us at

                The A-Infos News Service


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