Limerick’s election hopefuls pledge to support fight on sex trafficking

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Group with protocolCANDIDATES running in this Friday’s local and European elections in Limerick are being challenged to pledge their support for laws which aim to end abuse, violence and trafficking of women by targeting the buyers of sex.

Doras Luimní, one of the 70 organisations which make up the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, believe that the election is an opportunity for political parties and independent candidates to re-affirm their support to seek new laws.

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Based on O’Connell Street in the city, the independent non-governmental organisation promotes the human rights of migrants through personal advocacy, integration development and collaborative advocacy campaigns. Doras also has a dedicated anti-trafficking office which participates in local and national campaigns against forced prostitution and sex trafficking.

Nationally, 28 local Councils have already passed motions of support for the Turn Off the Red Light campaign while all Ireland’s current MEPs backed a European Parliament vote calling for the targeting of those whose actions fuel prostitution and trafficking.

CEO of Doras Luimní, Karen McHugh, insists that despite huge levels of public and political support for laws targeting the buyers of sex, to date no Government legislation has been produced. Ms McHugh insists that councillors and MEPs have a role to play in keeping the pressure on.

“We are asking candidates to publicly declare their support,” Ms McHugh announced.

“Already Councils right across the country representing some of our biggest cities, our provincial towns and rural communities have passed motions of support. It is important that we maintain that momentum and shut down a criminal enterprise which is putting over €600,000 a day into the pockets of pimps, traffickers and thugs operating in our communities,” she said.

It is now 11 months since the Oireachtas Justice Committee issued its unanimous backing for laws targeting demand for prostitution and trafficking, and almost two years since the Government announced a review of the laws on prostitution.

Nusha Yonkova, anti trafficking co-ordinator with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, described the elections as an opportunity for candidates to re-affirm that they too want legislation introduced.

“We are asking our supporters across Limerick to continue raising this issue on the doorsteps and demand that our elected representatives show leadership,” she commented.

Meanwhile, Doras Luimní said it was encouraged by the strong show of support from local election candidates who have made a pledge to ensure that their campaigns would promote inclusion and reject racism. In advance of the 2014 Local Elections, Doras Luimní invited all local election candidates in Limerick to demonstrate their commitment to anti-racism by signing the Anti-Racism Election Protocol.

Candidates from a range of political parties attended the event last week and signed the Anti-Racism protocol document.  Doras Luimní also gave a briefing on some of the issues around immigration and integration including some updates on the Intercultural Cities initiative, Anti-Trafficking work and the Anti-Rumours Campaign.