Ugly Mugs Ireland, an online safety platform to protect sex workers, have informed the gardaí of incidents that involve men posing as members of the force and attacking sex workers.
These horrific incidents include men attacking, robbing and sexually assaulting female sex workers.
Linda Kavanagh, a spokesperson for the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland confirmed an incident as recently as April 18.
“Is there any wonder there is a culture of fear within the sex worker community when sex workers are harassed by gardaí, or people impersonating them, and when they try to report through a third party this is dismissed?”
Thank you @aoifegracemoore @irishexaminer for highlighting this. I really hope something good can come from it. Ireland must start taking the safety of people in sex work seriously. Stop dismissing all the evidence and good practice and make positive change. https://t.co/rb9e7Xi40h
— UglyMugs.ie Public (@UglyMugsPublic) April 25, 2022
One woman was robbed in a Dublin hotel by three men claiming to be members of the gardaí. They stole her money and her phone.
Another woman was shown a fake garda badge and threatened to “get out of his town or he will be back with his mates”, he also demanded oral sex but she screamed for help prompting him to leave.
There have been numerous reports made about an alleged officer operating in the Midlands who has been targeting foreign sex workers. He has been approaching them and demanding free services in order to prevent them from being deported.
Gardaí have confirmed that the reports received by the commissioner have been examined by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, who are responsible for the policing of sex work and sex trafficking.
A spokesman stated that “No formal complaints were made by any individual complainants. An Garda Síochána cannot investigate anecdotal or anonymised reports”.
This is really worrying but not wholly surprising. When the current legislation on sex work was passed in 2017 research indicated that the Nordic model decreases the safety of sex workers and has a complex interaction with policing. Time for reform. #SexWork https://t.co/sTRIGwflJv
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) April 25, 2022
Ireland’s laws on sex work changed in 2017, which means that paying for any form of sexual service is considered a criminal offence.
Amnesty International Ireland reported last year that the law is facilitating the targeting and abuse of sex workers, and the state is failing to protect them from violence.
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland has stated that their own reporting has found that crimes against sex workers has risen by 92% since the law change.
Ugly Mugs Ireland, who also have branches all over the world, has ceased working with the Garda National Protective Services Bureau in relation to the ongoing issues involving the harassment of sex workers.
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