237. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to a new report (details supplied). which found on the basis of a meta-analysis of studies from 33 countries that criminalisation of sex workers or their clients is associated with a significantly greater risk of physical or sexual violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53514/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have been made aware of this study, which was published on 11 December 2018 and my officials are considering its findings. However, I would note that none of the quantitative studies cited in the study examined the effects of the criminalisation of sex purchase in isolation, and only one of the 37 qualitative studies cited dealt with the Swedish approach to decriminalisation which was the model for the Sexual Offences Act 2017.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act was enacted on 22 February 2017. Part 4 of the Act, which was commenced on 27 March 2017, provides for two new offences of purchasing sexual services in the context of prostitution.
A fundamental focus in the introduction of this legislation was to ensure that the women working in the prostitution sector would have increased protection and face no repercussions for reporting crimes related to their work. In relation to the Deputy's reference to violence against sex workers, I would encourage anyone who has been the subject of a violent crime to report that incident to An Garda Síochána.
The part of the Act dealing with the purchase of sex is due to be reviewed in 2020, and will include an assessment of the impact on the welfare of those who engage in sexual activity for payment, as well as statistics on prosecutions and convictions. My Department has made funding available for research into the impact of the legislative changes.