The Department of Justice and Equality has pursuant to section 27 of The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 commissioned an Independent Expert to review the operation of Part 4 of that Act, which deals with Purchase of Sexual Services.
The existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution were removed in The Sexual Offences Act 2017 (The Act) with respect to those persons who offer their services as a prostitute. One purpose of the measures introduced in the Act was to provide additional protection to persons involved in prostitution, especially vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking. The Act allows them to provide information to the Gardaí, for instance where they have been subjected to violence by clients, without fear of prosecution for selling sexual services.
Part 4 of the Act introduced two new offences namely paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person.
The Act was commenced in March 2017 and it includes a provision that a review would take place three years following its commencement.
The intent and goal of the legislation is to protect vulnerable persons. In this context, the review will include an assessment of the impact of the operation of Part 4 of the Act on the safety and well-being of persons who engage in sexual activity for payment, as well as consideration of whether further measures are needed to strengthen protection for persons who engage in sexual activity for payment.
What we are publicly consulting on?
In line with Government policy on public consultation, the Department wants to provide an opportunity for people to give their views on their knowledge of:
- Legislation that aims to protect those offering sexual services and that criminalises the purchase of sexual services
- How the Act has been enforced
- The impact of such enforcement on those offering those services and on the purchaser of those services
- Any other public policy interventions associated with the offering and purchase of sexual services
- Relevant social changes regarding the offering and purchase of sexual services
- The impact of such policy interventions and social changes
- Any perceived barriers to the protection of those offering sexual services and the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services
- How the safety and well-being of persons who engage in sexual activity for payment may be impacted by criminalising the purchase of sexual services
- Any perceived unintended risks to vulnerable people e.g. victims of human trafficking and others arising from the operation of the Act.
What will we do with your response?
- The Independent Expert will have access to your views to be able to consider them as part of her review process
- Your feedback will be considered in the development of further policy and operational responses following completion of the Review Report.
How you can have your say
Please complete the general public consultation survey here: Consultation Survey (the survey will take approximately 10 - 15 minutes to complete). The survey is also available in a number of languages. Please click on your preferred language to complete the survey: French, Spanish, Slovak, Romanian, Latvian, Portuguese, Russian, Yoruba.
The closing date for completion of the survey is 19 September 2020.
Other consultation opportunities that you may participate in
The Independent Expert will conduct other, targeted consultations as outlined in the Terms of Reference, as the Review progresses. Details of these will be notified here at the appropriate time.
Individuals and stakeholders are now invited to make a written submission, addressing the Terms of Reference, to firstname.lastname@example.org before 19 September 2020.
The review will conclude with the publication of the Independent Expert’s report which will laid before each House of the Oireachtas.