A former prostitute has urged Northern Ireland MLAs to pass a proposed law which would make the purchase of sex illegal in the Province.
Mia De Faoite told Stormont’s Justice Committee to make a “wise choice” and support the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill because prostitution has no place in a humane society.
She spoke of her experiences as a prostitute on the streets of Dublin for six years, when she was repeatedly raped and abused.
De Faoite said: “Rape does become part of the job, so much so we don’t even use the term rape”.
“We don’t have permission to.”
“Every prostituted woman has a rape or sexual assault CV”, she added.
The Bill, proposed by the DUP’s Lord Morrow, would criminalise purchasing sex, and boost support for human trafficking victims.
Currently under the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, paying for sexual services is only an offence if it can be proved that the purchaser used violence, threats, coercion or deception.
Certain other activities such as running a brothel and kerb-crawling are also illegal.
Mia De Faoite, who is now a second-year student in philosophy and sociology at Maynooth, said she became a prostitute after becoming a heroin addict.
She urged politicians to allow “good to triumph”.
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill creates a new offence of purchasing sexual services to reduce demand for trafficked individuals and combat exploitation.
It also sets out legal requirements for providing effective assistance and support for victims of human trafficking, such as helping with their physical, psychological and social recovery.
The Bill is at committee stage, which is expected to be completed by April.