Northern Ireland Assembly votes to criminalise the purchase of sexual services

By Louise Gleich

Northern Ireland Assembly Chamber

In a landmark move late this evening the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to make it a criminal offence to purchase sexual services in the province.

The clause, which is part of Lord Maurice Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill, received widespread support within the Assembly from parties across the political spectrum.

Highlighting the aims of the clause Lord Morrow said:

“In a context where the NRM figures clearly demonstrate that not only is the demand for paid sex the single biggest driver for trafficking to Northern Ireland but well over 50% of victims suffer sexual exploitation, I believe we must do something to address this demand if we are to see an end to human trafficking. Moreover in a Bill that seeks to tackle both human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, addressing the exploitation in prostitution is not merely appropriate but I believe something that should be expected.”

Speaking in support of the clause, Sinn Fein’s Caitríona Ruane MLA said “[this clause] is an important step forward in the right direction” and that “our aim is to ensure that women in prostitution are not exploited.”

The vote was won by 81 votes in favour to 10 …read more

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