Sex Trade Spotlight


Sex Trade

Simon Boazman asks what impact a ban on buying sex has had on prostitution and human trafficking in Sweden, and if a similar proposal would work in Northern Ireland.


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Transcript


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This programme contains some scenes Demand for sexual services means

:00:08.:00:11.

that human traffickers the Northern Ireland as a lucrative market.

:00:11.:00:15.

These are very dangerous individuals who see these people as

:00:15.:00:20.

a business commodity. They are shattering the lives of dozens of

:00:20.:00:26.

vulnerable women here. They do not care! It is just about meat, flesh,

:00:26.:00:32.

that is all. But tonight on Spotlight, we examine a

:00:32.:00:34.

controversial new bill that has been proposed to tackle the growing

:00:34.:00:41.

problem. I believe that traffic in this modern-day slavery. It would,

:00:41.:00:46.

for the first time in the UK, making it illegal for a man to buy

:00:46.:00:55.

sex in any circumstances. I work all week, 40 hours. I pay my taxes,

:00:55.:01:05.
:01:05.:01:39.

Police! Earlier this year, the PSNI raided suspected brothels right

:01:39.:01:47.

across Northern Ireland. Police! Stand still! What we discovered is

:01:47.:01:51.

that prostitution is occurring in every county in Northern Ireland.

:01:51.:01:55.

We arrested a number of people involved in brothel keeping, and we

:01:55.:01:58.

recovered a number of people that I would consider to be victims of

:01:58.:02:08.
:02:08.:02:10.

Estimates from the PSNI indicate that prostitution in Northern

:02:10.:02:14.

Ireland generates �25 million every year, making it one of the largest

:02:14.:02:24.
:02:24.:02:26.

But it is one that very few of us ever get to say. You may think just

:02:26.:02:31.

because you do not see sex workers in your town or city, they are not

:02:31.:02:36.

there, but there are various websites offering services of women

:02:36.:02:41.

right across Northern Ireland. So just how easy is it to book one? Of

:02:41.:02:47.

the dozens of women advertised, I spoke to 10, seemingly from various

:02:47.:02:52.

nationalities, all in Belfast, and all available to meet for sex.

:02:52.:02:57.

I just want to know if you are free for a date tonight. How much is it

:02:57.:03:06.

for an hour? 160. Is that everything? OK, so what shall I do?

:03:06.:03:16.
:03:16.:03:21.

How does it work? You come to me. I I called earlier, I am near Belfast

:03:21.:03:28.

Telegraph now. OK, my darling. was as straightforward as that.

:03:28.:03:37.

OK, well, I came to where she wanted to meet, she gave me some

:03:37.:03:41.

further directions to where she is now, but obviously that is as far

:03:41.:03:49.

From making the court is standing outside the apartment took no more

:03:49.:03:55.

than 20 minutes. It shows just how quick, simple and easy it is to buy

:03:55.:04:03.

sexier. -- sex here. So profitable is the industry in Northern Ireland

:04:03.:04:06.

that it attracts prostitutes from all over Europe. Tonight we speak

:04:06.:04:12.

to people with very different experiences of the trade. Laura is

:04:12.:04:16.

an independent escort who knows there is big money to be made here.

:04:16.:04:20.

I can only speak from my own experience, and my experience is

:04:20.:04:25.

very positive in the sex industry. It is a buoyant market and there is

:04:25.:04:35.
:04:35.:04:37.

That demand is coming from men like Darren. Over the last three years,

:04:37.:04:42.

he has been a regular visitor to prostitutes in County Antrim.

:04:42.:04:48.

work all week, 40 hours. I pay my taxes, I have some money, I treat

:04:48.:04:55.

myself from time to time. Is that how you see it, as a treat that you

:04:55.:05:04.

have learned? Not that I earned, but it is nice. The estimates he

:05:04.:05:09.

has spent over �2,500 on prostitutes. He believes it was

:05:10.:05:13.

money well spent. What is it now that makes you go

:05:13.:05:22.

back again and again? For the bars -- bars, it is a privilege to get

:05:22.:05:27.

to know girls of that high standard, you do not see them type of girls

:05:27.:05:33.

in town much. You'd have to spend �500 wining and dining them. It

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bypasses that. Because there are so many men like Darren here who are

:05:40.:05:45.

prepared to pay for sex, the PSNI say that Northern Ireland is now a

:05:45.:05:50.

draw for Human Traffic is eager to exploit that buoyant market. --

:05:50.:05:54.

human traffickers. They have seen there is a demand from the men for

:05:54.:06:00.

sex, and they will supply that demand to their market place. That,

:06:00.:06:06.

to me, it is not a very nice thing to say about our society in

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Northern Ireland, that there is that supply and demand. I would

:06:10.:06:15.

estimate on any one day that there are probably about 170 people

:06:15.:06:18.

working or advertised as escorts in Northern Ireland, probably

:06:18.:06:22.

somewhere between 50 and 60 of those individuals may display the

:06:22.:06:27.

indicators of being victims of trafficking. In the last three

:06:27.:06:31.

years, there have been over 40 victims of sexual trafficking

:06:31.:06:34.

recovered in Northern Ireland. They are often extremely traumatised by

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the experiences, and this means that we very rarely get to hear

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their stories. But tonight we here exclusively from the only victim of

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sexual trafficking in Northern Ireland to speak publicly. Sarah

:06:48.:06:55.

had moved to the UK, had a job, friends and family. Her hopes and

:06:55.:06:59.

dreams were in front of her. Then one day she was simply taken.

:06:59.:07:03.

just disappear, in one moment, and you find yourself in an airport

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with people you do not even know and taken, just taken in a car and

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goodbye for ever. You must have Sarah believes that all prostitutes

:07:17.:07:21.

are effectively victims of rape and feels that the real story must be

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told. Do you think people in Northern

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Ireland understand what is really going on? I don't think so. It is

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very important for people to know what is really happening appear.

:07:35.:07:40.

Probably there are over... I couldn't say a perfect number, but

:07:40.:07:45.

over 500 rapes a day in Belfast. you think that any of the men who

:07:45.:07:50.

came to see you knew that you were traffic? Yes. They knew everything.

:07:50.:07:56.

They knew. They were speaking with them, they knew. Did they care?

:07:56.:08:01.

Who cares? I was beaten because of them. I am sorry to tell it like

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that, but they knew, they don't care. It is just about meat, flesh,

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that's all. Sarah's experience is not unique. The PSNI fear that the

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real level of human trafficking in Northern Ireland could be double

:08:15.:08:23.

the official figures. In an attempt to address this horrific crime, the

:08:23.:08:28.

UK per year and MLA Maurice Morrow has proposed a ground-breaking but

:08:28.:08:31.

controversial new Bill. It is setting out to basically do three

:08:31.:08:36.

things or try to achieve three things. First, more support for

:08:36.:08:43.

victims. Make more robust provision for the conviction of traffickers.

:08:43.:08:48.

And reduce demand for trafficking. And it is his plan through what is

:08:48.:08:51.

called Clause IV to reduce the demand for sex that makes the bill

:08:51.:08:56.

so unique. Almost all of the laws that currently deal with

:08:56.:09:00.

prostitution in the UK, like keeping a brothel or solicitation,

:09:00.:09:04.

targets the seller or the prostitute and not the buyer.

:09:04.:09:08.

Although already illegal to pay for sex with a forced prostitute, the

:09:08.:09:12.

reality is that this law has proved very difficult to enforce, and as

:09:12.:09:16.

yet there has never been a conviction for that crime in

:09:16.:09:19.

Northern Ireland. This Bill is designed to make things much

:09:19.:09:24.

simpler, because of the very first time it makes buying consensual sex

:09:24.:09:30.

also a crime. There is a demand there, so we must tackle the demand,

:09:30.:09:35.

and that is what Clause IV will do. At the moment, there are some

:09:35.:09:41.

people who, perversely, salve their conscience by saying, what I am

:09:41.:09:45.

doing here, and not breaking any law, and I believe that if this was

:09:45.:09:49.

legislation tomorrow, that would right away take out those who have

:09:49.:09:54.

a regard for the law. I believe it is needed, and I believe it is the

:09:54.:09:59.

real way of tackling human trafficking. If the bill goes

:09:59.:10:07.

through, it would make men like If Lord Morrow was sitting here now,

:10:07.:10:11.

saying that he wants to make you a criminal, what would you say to

:10:11.:10:19.

him? Good luck. I have done absolutely nothing wrong, and I

:10:19.:10:23.

will continue to do so, no matter what. Would this not stop you?

:10:23.:10:29.

Absolutely not, no. Sex worker Laura also believes the bill is

:10:29.:10:33.

misguided and will not help those who are victims of trafficking.

:10:33.:10:37.

do away with demand, to do away with trafficking, it is erroneous,

:10:37.:10:42.

completely wrong. You simply cannot do away with demand. It might

:10:42.:10:45.

deplete on a very small level, but in actual fact what will happen is

:10:45.:10:50.

that you will push the women who do so badly need our help further away

:10:50.:10:53.

from those people who can help them. You are targeting the wrong group

:10:53.:10:58.

of people. You are targeting the people who are paying for and then

:10:58.:11:02.

joined consensual sex, when really what we need to do his target the

:11:02.:11:08.

traffickers. But for Maurice Morrow, proved his law would work exists a

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short plane ride away. -- proof. Stockholm.

:11:14.:11:24.
:11:24.:11:30.

In a place where this law has been More than 10 years ago, Sweden

:11:30.:11:34.

became the first country to make the purchasing of sex and illegal

:11:34.:11:40.

act. Ever since then, it has been held up around the world to tackle

:11:40.:11:50.
:11:50.:11:52.

the horrors of human trafficking -- an illegal act. The impact of the

:11:52.:11:58.

sex purchase law on trafficking was only realised later. It is a great

:11:58.:12:02.

benchmark to see if this bill in Northern Ireland would work. Helped

:12:02.:12:06.

by a local journalist and interpreter, we hit the streets to

:12:06.:12:11.

try to talk to prostitutes to hear how they think this law has worked.

:12:11.:12:19.

We spoke to a woman in her 30s. She would not do an on-camera interview

:12:19.:12:23.

but did share her views. The traffic in has gone down. Some

:12:23.:12:28.

years ago, the girls could make heaps of money. But people are more

:12:28.:12:34.

cautious now. Demand has dropped but she still believes there are

:12:34.:12:37.

trafficked prostitutes and people from all walks of life still going

:12:37.:12:42.

to the industry. The maybe you are a single parent, a student, need

:12:42.:12:46.

some extra money. Then it is your own choice to come here. Then you

:12:47.:12:50.

go home and lead an ordinary life. We asked her if this was what she

:12:50.:12:56.

wanted to do. Want is perhaps too strong a word. That is what you

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have chosen to do. No one has forced me to come here. A do you

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think prostitution will always be in Stockholm? Yes, I think so.

:13:06.:13:12.

it ever go away? I do not think so. I have seen numerous prostitutes

:13:12.:13:15.

here. I have seen them doing business. I have seen users looking

:13:15.:13:20.

for them. I spoke to a prostitute who said that although the demand

:13:20.:13:30.
:13:30.:13:31.

has dropped if men want sex they will find it. With demand for sex

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reduced but evidently still there, how do the police feel the law is

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working? Detective Inspector is from the Stockholm police

:13:45.:13:50.

prostitution unit. You still have some street prostitution? It has

:13:50.:13:54.

drastically decreased after the law. Before the law, we could have about

:13:54.:14:02.

up to 18 women on an ordinary night -- up to 80. If we go out later

:14:02.:14:12.
:14:12.:14:12.

tonight, you would find about 10, 15. More at weekends. He offered to

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show me where the street prostitutes take their clients. It

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is not the most likely place I thought we would end up. The reason

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why we are here is that this church and graveyard is very close to one

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of our streets with prostitution. What they do is take their clients

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from the street and go here because this place is dark and shabbily.

:14:40.:14:50.
:14:50.:14:57.

They will actually have sex against a tombstoning -- a tombstone or up

:14:57.:15:01.

against the church wall. The street prostitutes, most of them do not

:15:01.:15:06.

have places to have sex. When you deal with people who will go to

:15:06.:15:09.

those extremes, to have sex in a graveyard with a prostitute, is a

:15:09.:15:15.

fine going to be a deterrent? first-time offender, I would say

:15:15.:15:22.

that a find is probably a deterrent. He evidence of sex was everywhere.

:15:22.:15:25.

Used condoms lying all around the church. It makes me think that if

:15:25.:15:30.

you keep coming back and arresting people here, the deterrent is not

:15:30.:15:36.

working because they are still doing it. You have to think of if

:15:36.:15:42.

we were not having this law, what with the situation be like? De you

:15:42.:15:51.

think it would be worse? Probably 10 times worse. 20. 100 times worse.

:15:51.:15:56.

But there are critics here who feel the reduction in its street

:15:56.:15:59.

prostitution owes more to the internet moving the industry

:15:59.:16:04.

indoors than to the introduction of the law. I went to make a writer on

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the sex industry -- I went to meet. Hello. Come in. Thank you very much.

:16:11.:16:16.

What is it about this nor that does not work? I would turn the question

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around and ask, what is working? -- what is it about this law. It is

:16:25.:16:27.

claimed that prostitution is lessened but there is no evidence.

:16:27.:16:32.

It is claimed that trafficking is less but there is no evidence.

:16:32.:16:37.

There is no evidence it has deterred men from buying sex. We

:16:37.:16:42.

can go on with a list but there is no proof. Before the law was put in

:16:42.:16:47.

place, I went with some other people -- by voiced concerns with

:16:47.:16:53.

some other people. The live for sex workers marginalised, their lives

:16:53.:16:59.

would be worse. We warned it would be harder to choose what client you

:16:59.:17:05.

would go with. It would be harder to negotiate safer sex practices.

:17:05.:17:10.

We warned that the stigma against sex workers would be raised. Most

:17:10.:17:20.
:17:20.:17:27.

This one went saw the effects of the law first time when she was a

:17:27.:17:31.

prostitute. Now I campaigner, she believes laws like this are not

:17:31.:17:41.
:17:41.:17:41.

needed. I believe that the law should protect you and me as well.

:17:41.:17:45.

You can point your finger at any problem we have in the sex industry

:17:45.:17:49.

and there will be a law for that already. We have laws against

:17:49.:17:53.

sexual exploitation, slavery, a child labour, forced labour,

:17:53.:17:57.

kidnapping, rape. All of the laws are there. It would be more

:17:57.:18:07.
:18:07.:18:07.

effective to use them. But Sweden's leading expert on human trafficking

:18:07.:18:12.

is convinced the law has led to a 75% reduction in that street

:18:12.:18:19.

prostitution. But has it had an impact on traffickers? We can hear

:18:19.:18:28.

it telephone conversations that traffickers speak about Sweden as a

:18:28.:18:32.

bad market. They are afraid of getting caught. She also believes

:18:33.:18:39.

the law has changed the attitudes of the Swedish people. It has a an

:18:39.:18:44.

important impact because legislation communicate its values

:18:44.:18:49.

in society first. The decision... Most people want to stand on the

:18:49.:18:53.

right side of legislation. It works on most people but it does not work

:18:53.:18:58.

100%. We do not have any legislation that works 100%.

:18:58.:19:01.

have heard arguments but these two subjects prostitution and

:19:01.:19:05.

trafficking should not always been mixed, but they are somehow

:19:05.:19:12.

separate things. They are linked. If there were no prostitutes and

:19:12.:19:17.

demand for social services, there would be no trafficking. -- demand

:19:17.:19:23.

for sexual services. The debate in Sweden is still raging as to the

:19:23.:19:27.

real impact this law has had on demand for sexual services. It is

:19:27.:19:32.

an argument that is being echoed back in Northern Ireland. Sex for

:19:32.:19:36.

sale is never going to go away no matter whether we criminalise the

:19:36.:19:41.

client, the sex worker, the advertiser, it is not going to go

:19:41.:19:47.

away. That is not a reason not to try and address demand for some.

:19:47.:19:55.

I would love there to be no murders, no robberies. The real world tells

:19:55.:20:00.

me those things are going to happen. But I am not going to sit back and

:20:00.:20:03.

say, because those things happen, there is nothing we could or should

:20:03.:20:07.

be doing. I am going to try and be the voice of those who have no

:20:07.:20:12.

voice on this issue. I will be speaking out for them. Those who

:20:12.:20:15.

have experienced the pain back the industry can inflict believe that

:20:15.:20:22.

doing nothing is not an option. This trafficking victim endured

:20:22.:20:26.

many months of being moved around locations right across Northern

:20:26.:20:29.

Ireland. She still struggles to overcome the effect of daily abuse.

:20:30.:20:34.

Is there such a thing as a typical day? The number of men, the Times,

:20:34.:20:44.

how would it work? It is at any away in the night because they do

:20:44.:20:51.

not care. You are forced. It means anybody can come there. It means 15

:20:51.:20:57.

minutes on the clock. It means you cannot stay... Basically, how many

:20:57.:21:05.

people? Between five and 15. Probably more. It depends how you

:21:05.:21:15.

can resist. A day? Yes. That is how it is done. Every day? Yes Foster

:21:15.:21:21.

you cannot walk. - macro yes. You cannot walk. Had I do you survive

:21:21.:21:27.

that? I wished sometimes to be dead. Not to be there. How often way you

:21:27.:21:35.

beaten? Every day. Every day. -- how often were you beaten? For what

:21:35.:21:43.

reason? No reason. Just if I was looking out of the window or

:21:43.:21:48.

probably if I was missing my family or something. They would just be to

:21:48.:21:57.

you for that? One? Because they want to make you we care so that he

:21:57.:22:00.

fell and they create their addiction in you. You do not have

:22:00.:22:06.

food, sleep, freedom. You cannot even watch the window. They saw I

:22:06.:22:11.

was fighting so after a while they plan to kill me. But they did not,

:22:11.:22:15.

they could not, because people were paying money for me. Did you

:22:15.:22:22.

believe they were going to kill you? Yes, are believed it. The PSNI

:22:22.:22:27.

say these fears are well-founded. These are very dangerous

:22:27.:22:33.

individuals. They are serious and organised criminals who exhort and

:22:33.:22:40.

use control on the people that they are moving. They see them as

:22:40.:22:47.

commodities. The people will be moved in to read be used and abused.

:22:47.:22:51.

People that you could be living with in your own street or in a

:22:51.:22:55.

family who are involved in the purchasing of sex. If you could say

:22:55.:23:00.

anything to the guys who come to see you, what would you say?

:23:00.:23:04.

take a second view on what they are doing. If I could scream in this

:23:04.:23:08.

room 10,000 times, do you think somebody would hear me? What is the

:23:08.:23:13.

level of the screen, the sound of it? That is how much they hurt.

:23:13.:23:17.

They were just watching me and saying, you are such a beautiful

:23:17.:23:24.

girl, now get naked. There are impassioned arguments for and

:23:24.:23:28.

against this law. It seems that often the more you have seen all

:23:28.:23:34.

felt the paint the industry can inflict, the more likely you are to

:23:34.:23:38.

believe or hope that the proposed legislation would work and reduce

:23:38.:23:44.

the demand for paid sex -- the more you have felt or seemed the pain

:23:44.:23:48.

the industry can inflict. Drug addiction took this mother from a

:23:48.:23:54.

happy normal life to selling sex on the streets of Dublin. Now drug-

:23:54.:24:02.

free, but she fears she will never be the same again. Sometimes I am

:24:02.:24:06.

scared I will be forever seen as damaged and there has now made

:24:06.:24:11.

myself untouchable -- and I have now made myself untouchable for the

:24:11.:24:14.

rest of my life. There are things that have happened I will never

:24:14.:24:21.

make sense of. A it is clear that the demand is fuelling trafficking

:24:21.:24:26.

needs. Prostitution and trafficking are intrinsically linked. You have

:24:26.:24:30.

more because of the other. Talking about human trafficking and not

:24:30.:24:35.

talking about prostitution is like talking about the slave trade and

:24:35.:24:40.

forgetting to mention the plantation, the sex industry is a

:24:40.:24:44.

vile, sit, twisted world and must be brought in its knees. The only

:24:44.:24:49.

way it can is to cut off what makes it exists and that is the demand

:24:49.:24:54.

for. Men who think they have a right to buy a that human beings.

:24:54.:24:58.

This man says he would never buy sex from an unwilling or trafficked

:24:59.:25:02.

sex worker and does not see anything wrong in what he is doing.

:25:02.:25:06.

I think it is entirely different what we are doing to what they are

:25:06.:25:12.

doing. That is important that we should... I see fully independent

:25:12.:25:16.

escorts. There are criminal gangs who are human trafficking and that

:25:16.:25:20.

is different. How we do know? just know. Their personalities. If

:25:20.:25:27.

they are happy are not. Is there a danger that there is a wilful sort

:25:27.:25:35.

of ignorance in men who biceps? I do not think so. -- in men who

:25:35.:25:40.

buy sex. I know if they are independent and happy. But this

:25:40.:25:43.

woman says there is no such thing as a happy prostitute and all

:25:44.:25:50.

romanticised notions of the sex industry are flawed. I know women

:25:50.:25:58.

on the streets that fantasise about it, they believe their favourite

:25:58.:26:05.

customer will rescue them and save them. But they do not want to. And

:26:05.:26:12.

when we die, they come back the next week. We do die. We die lonely

:26:12.:26:17.

of massive overdoses, poll from the canals stone-cold. Imagine the last

:26:17.:26:23.

thing you do when you're alive is give a bludgeon to a 60 year-old?

:26:23.:26:26.

Women say it provides support and accommodation for victims of

:26:26.:26:30.

trafficking and sexual abuse. They have heard stories like this many

:26:30.:26:35.

times before and back the proposed legislation. I have no

:26:35.:26:40.

understanding of why people would not support this bill. I think

:26:40.:26:45.

morally and as a society, why would we not pass this bill? Why would we

:26:45.:26:53.

not say sexual violence against women is wrong? I have not heard a

:26:53.:26:57.

good argument to change my mind. Many legal experts and law-

:26:57.:27:00.

enforcement bodies remain unconvinced that the Bill would

:27:00.:27:08.

work. This criminologist from Queen's University... The bill

:27:08.:27:12.

conflates two fairly distinct activities. One trafficking and the

:27:12.:27:16.

other prostitution. Some trafficking may involve an element

:27:16.:27:20.

of prostitution but there are lots of trafficking activities that do

:27:20.:27:23.

not necessarily involved prostitution. Prostitution because

:27:23.:27:30.

it is a varied practice can exist in the absence of trafficking. What

:27:30.:27:34.

the Bill is effectively saying is that everyone involved in sex work

:27:34.:27:38.

and prostitution are traffic. There is no evidence that is in fact the

:27:38.:27:44.

case. And the Justice Minister is on record as having concerns that

:27:44.:27:49.

making the purchase of consensual sex a crime risks driving

:27:49.:27:53.

prostitution underground and make it honourable people at greater

:27:53.:27:58.

risk of harm while the PSNI fear the Bill would divert vital police

:27:58.:28:03.

resources away from recovering trafficking victims. My opinion is

:28:03.:28:07.

it may hamper the recovery of human trafficking victims and change the

:28:07.:28:12.

focus from recovery of them on to purely prostitution. Human

:28:12.:28:21.

trafficking is not... We showed what we had discovered in Sweden

:28:21.:28:26.

but he remained convinced the law would pass. Here's a message.

:28:26.:28:34.

can decide that we can play around the edges of this problem or we can

:28:34.:28:37.

take a more positive and robust approach and say that we should

:28:37.:28:42.

tackle this issue. We should not allow a situation to continue to

:28:42.:28:49.

deteriorate whereby you then have this issue of human trafficking

:28:49.:28:55.

escalating year on year. But while lawmakers, legislators and those

:28:55.:28:58.

who work both willingly and unwillingly in the sex industry

:28:58.:29:04.

continued to disagree, one thing will remain certain. Every day and

:29:04.:29:08.

every night in Northern Ireland, the demand for paid sex remains.

:29:08.:29:16.

That means for some so will the pain. These are men far our

:29:16.:29:23.

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