15-year-olds trafficked to Ireland for sex trade

Girls as young as 15 are being trafficked into Ireland as part of the sex trade, according to a prostitution support organisation.

The group, Ruhama, said that of the 341 women it had counselled during 2007-08, 100 had been trafficked into Ireland for prostitution.

Six of the trafficked women were under the age of 19, some as young as 15.

Ruhama says Ireland has now become “firmly enmeshed in the global sex trade”.

Most of the women trafficked into Ireland are originally from Eastern European countries and Nigeria.

The group said the women were brought into Dublin, Cork and Belfast before being moved around the island.

In July the House of Lords debated new prostitution laws aimed at combating sex trafficking.

The Government wants to criminalise men who pay for sex with women being exploited by someone else, whether they know about her situation or not.

However, other Government proposals would soften the penalties for prostitutes convicted of a solicitation offence.

A 2008 estimate suggested that up to 18,000 females, including girls as young as 14, have been trafficked into UK brothels to meet the rising demand for prostitutes.

An international study published in the Journal of Trauma Practice found that 68 per cent of prostitutes met the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with symptoms as severe as victims of torture.

The same study shows that nine in ten prostitutes want to escape prostitution but feel unable to do so.

Statistics from the ‘Crime and Disorder associated with Prostitution Initiative’ showed that 93 per cent of prostitutes were using non-prescribed drugs, including 88 per cent using heroin.

More than half of UK prostitutes have been raped or suffered indecent assault and three quarters have experienced physical violence.

A majority of the prostitutes involved in one study said that they had feared for their lives at least once.

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