Sex work is a form of “gender-based violence,” say members of the National Women’s Council

National Women’s Council (NWC) members believe that sex work is a form of gender-based violence, with sex trafficking having gender equality implications.

A new NWC report out today will show that council members do not believe prostitution lifts women out of poverty or that sexual consent is something that can be bought.

NWC supports the Nordic model of sex work, where selling sex is legal but buying it is illegal.

The Nordic model is currently the model in force in the state and is often criticized by the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland group, which advocates a full decriminalization model.

The new NWC research was conducted through roundtables attended by council members and attended by migrant workers, homeless service providers and women’s rights advocates.

The report notes that “nearly two-thirds” of the participants in the roundtable discussion “have women with experience in the sex trade in their service user group.”

Two participants stated that they had been in the sex trade themselves.

The report notes that a “clear limitation” of the research is that its findings do not represent “all NWC members,” only those who participated in the study.

Participants “strongly agreed” that sex work is a form of gender-based violence as the trade is “heavily gendered”, with a “power imbalance” between buyers and sellers.

“[A] Number of participants stressed that the number and nature of acts associated with prostitution are traumatic for many women and damage their physical, sexual and mental health with long-term consequences,” the report reads.

“Others found that desperate circumstances such as poverty drive women to take risks they would not normally take in an industry steeped in violence.”

The NWC research found that the view that sex work “should be treated as a job like any other” stems from only “a relatively small but very vocal proportion of those with actual experience in the sex trade who hold this view”.

This would silence “the majority who primarily experience prostitution as exploitative”.

“If you’re talking about something that will lift you out of poverty, it’s something worthwhile … you take it as a job that will get you and will actually lift you out of poverty completely … but [with prostitution] it still leaves you in a certain poverty in terms of mental and physical well-being,” an anonymous advocate for migrants’ rights is quoted as saying.

An unnamed migrant laborer is quoted as saying that “less than 1 percent” of “privileged” people choose sex work.

“It’s about less than 1 percent of the people we’re talking about, the very privileged ones who chose this life [prostitution],” She said.

“But unfortunately it is this 1pc. We often hear their voice more than the 90 percent who are left… because of some form of economic deprivation or another.”

Participants said prostitution is not regular work because the sex trade “sexually markets women and women’s bodies in particular.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sex-work-a-form-of-gender-based-violence-say-national-womens-council-members-42005610.html Sex work is a form of “gender-based violence,” say members of the National Women’s Council

Fry Electronics Team

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