A Westport town councillor is highlighting the reality that trafficking, exploitation, and abuse of women and girls, is taking place in rural Ireland.
Yesterday evening Councillor Keith Martin brought a motion to Westport Town Council, seeking the support of his fellow elected members to write to the Minister for Justice, calling for the introduction of legislation to outlaw the purchase of sex.
In this motion, Cllr Martin said he believes human rights abuses can be ended through targeting the demand for prostitution by introducing laws which make it an offence to pay for sex.
Such laws, he added, have been successful in other European countries.
The Mayo Advertiser had gone to print by the time the councillors discussed the motion, however speaking before the meeting, Cllr Martin said he was very hopeful his council colleagues would support the call for legislation.
The motion is part of a national campaign by a Waterford community group, called the Mens Development Network, who are lobbying all town councils and county councils to support the call for legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex.
“I don’t usually get involved in these kinds of national campaigns, but I believe this is very important,” said Cllr Martin.
“I don’t think there is any place in Ireland that isn’t affected by this type of crime. It’s a mistake to think that women in rural Ireland aren’t being exploited just because it might not be as obvious here as it is in urban areas.
“These laws are very effective in the countries where they are in place. Hopefully, if the Minister receives enough of these motions, he will start the process to introduce legislation,” he continued.
“We have been slow to legislate in this area. In the past, it has been left alone, as if it doesn’t happen but it is happening and it is something that needs to brought into the light, tackled, and legislated for.”