Over 200 Trafficked Women Traced In Seven Years

Some 216 women trafficked in to Ireland for prostitution over the last seven years have been tracked down, it emerged today.

An organisation which works with sexually exploited women said 16 of those arrived in the country in the first seven months of this year – around one every two weeks.

Ruhama fears many more victims of trafficking remain undetected, either unable or too afraid to come forward for help.

“We must face up to the reality that women are being trafficked into this country for the purposes of prostitution – and we must have effective legislation in place to deal with this horrific crime,” said Kathleen Fahy, Director of Ruhama.

“Trafficking is well organised, subtle and brutal and in our view requires a Garda National Vice Squad to deal with the issue effectively.”

Ruhama revealed that of the 216 women it has been made aware off since 2000, it supported 132 through a range of initiatives. It found 73% had originated from Eastern Europe, 21% from Africa, 4% from South America and 2% from Asia.

However, in its Biennial Report for 2005 – 2006 in which 48 new cases were assisted, the largest number of women referred to the service came from African countries, particularly Nigeria.

Ms Fahy said the exploitation of women outside the capital was growing.

“In 2005 25% of trafficked women we assisted were located outside Dublin, this increased to 40% in 2006, and all of 16 women assisted to date this year have been referred to us from outside Dublin,” she added.

“This reflects the fact that traffickers have succeeded in building an extensive network of contacts throughout the country country. Clearly trafficking for sexual exploitation is a phenomenon that is no longer confined to Dublin.”

In recent years, Ruhama has put the trafficking of women for prostitution to the forefront of its campaign.

Last year, more than 40 companies and businesses around the country signed a charter agreeing to stop fuelling the sex industry by holding corporate events in lap dancing clubs.

The organisation also highlights the difficulty of identifying victims of trafficking in Ireland due to the present legislative framework which essentially treats trafficking as an illegal immigrant issue.

Ms Fahy said it is imperative that Justice Minister Brian Lenihan expedites the legislation on trafficking as a matter of urgency – and includes in its provisions protection for the victims of this dreadful crime.