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Belfast: Sex workers and allies protest against the criminalisation of the purchase of sex

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 16:00 to 17:00


Sex workers and allies


Where: Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland
When: Monday 20 October, 4pm-5pm.

On Monday, October 20th, the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill.  This Bill includes a clause which will criminalise the purchase of sex. This Bill has been put forward by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) backed by CARE (Christian Action Research and Education). Sinn Féin, the second largest party, is believed to have now decided not to not oppose it. Thus it will pass.

The Department of Justice published independent research into prostitution in Northern Ireland on Friday, October 17th, clearly showing that criminalising the purchase of sex will not achieve the stated aims but will harm sex workers. However, Northern Ireland’s politicians are ignoring the evidence and plan to pass the Bill anyway.

Sex worker rights campaigner Laura Lee has called for a protest. Red umbrellas and sex worker rights banners are encouraged. Sex workers are highly stigmatised in Northern Ireland and thus masks are welcome.  Masks will also be made available on the day.


Some of the findings of the recently published Northern Ireland research are:

- Only 2% of sex workers support criminalising the purchase of sex.

- Sex workers worry that criminalisation of clients will lead to a potential decrease in security, worsen working conditions and increase risks of violence and other abuse.  Another common concern is that criminalisation of clients will lead to the increased involvement of organised crime groups and ‘pimps’ in the sex industry;

- 61% of NI-based sex workers feel criminalising the purchase of sex will make them less safe.

- There is likely to be significant difficulties with enforcement of the law.  PSNI officers who took part in the research noted that, in their opinion, a sex purchase ban would be difficult to enforce and would be largely ineffective in reducing the level of trafficking in sexual exploitation.

- 85% of sex workers believe the law will not reduce sex trafficking.

- Only 8% of respondents to the client survey said it would make them stop paying for sex altogether.

- Stigmatisation and the related fear of exposure constitutes a very significant issue for the sex workers who took part in the study, it ranked above all other concerns.


The full research report is available here:

The Facebook page for the event is here:

Laura Lee’s blog post about the protest is here:

Parliament Buildings, Stormont Belfast BT4 3XX
United Kingdom
October 2014
United Kingdom

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