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Ennis prostitutes available through the Internet

WHILE Clare mightn’t have prostitutes pitching their wares on street corners, there is a dark underbelly in the very heart of the county town, with websites advertising a number of so-called ‘escorts’.
Various websites give contact details for a number of foreign women operating in Ennis town centre along with price details. When contacted, they are willing to further discuss rates further and the type of sexual activity offered.
It’s understood these websites can operate legally because they are hosted outside the State. There are also online forums where men anonymously give details of their liaisons in Clare with prostitutes.
Geraldine Rowley of Ruhama, a group that works with women involved in prostitution said that while prostitution may have existed in one form or another in rural Ireland previously, it has become much more prevalent and the women concerned are often in terrible circumstances.
“It has been a growing issue in the last decade and even in the last six or seven years. It’s been moving into smaller towns and into rural areas, not just urban centres.”
She pointed to a case last week in Britain when a Carlow man was jailed for seven years as evidence of the prevalence of prostitution throughout the country. The prostitution ring he headed had bases throughout Ireland, including a number of small towns.
She said the vast majority of women involved in prostitution in Ireland are not Irish and are frequently victims of poverty. “They can be pushed into it through poverty and criminals can organise transport and accommodation. When they get to Ireland, the conditions may not be what they be expected. They may not be allowed to refuse customers or have a choice about the sex acts they engage in. In the case last week, there was evidence of women in Nigeria who were enslaved by witchcraft oaths and they believed that if they left, they’d die.”
She said frequently the women might appear to be more content than they really are. “They may appear to be ‘happy hookers’ but women say to us that unless they appear happy they won’t make money and they won’t be able to pay off the debt they have. You need to look deeper than that.”
Ms Rowley said that the country doesn’t have an adequately resourced or staffed vice squad and that the use of mobile phones and the Internet is allowing people run brothels at arm’s length.
Issues surrounding prostitution have changed but the law hasn’t kept up with it. “Women are still involved in on-street prostitution but there has been a huge increase in off-street prostitution and legislation hasn’t been effective enough to address that. Criminals see it as something that there are high profits from and a low risk,” she added.
Orla Ní Eilí of Clare Immigrant Support said female immigrants arriving in Ireland can find themselves forced into lifestyles that are very different from what they had expected. “Maybe they are targeted in their own country and they think they are coming to one world but it turns out they end up in something else completely.”
She said women can find themselves trafficked into Ireland and without contact with family or friends, knowledge of English or any money, they are forced into prostitution by uncaring criminals. They can have their passports taken from them and have no way of getting out of their circumstances.
Ruhama is currently running a television advertisement campaign showing the type of conditions under which women can be brought to Ireland and the impact on them.

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