Alfie Gallagher with a piece that featured today on his own blog, Left From The West addressing regulation of the sex industry in Ireland.
So the Oireachtas Committee on Justice is recommending
the implementation of the so-called "Swedish model" for the regulation
of prostitution/sex work in Ireland. Basically, this means that while
selling sexual services will remain legal, the purchase of them will be
Astonishingly, the Oireachtas Committee has completely ignored the
direct testimonies of current sex workers in Ireland. Furthermore, researchers who actually listen to sex workers in Sweden argue that the Swedish model has made life more dangerous for sex workers in that country.
So why was such evidence ignored? The only reason I can come up with is
that our right honourable friends in Leinster House have bought into the
notion that all current sex workers are suffering from a "false
consciousness". This is the bizarre idea that women can never freely
choose to sell sexual services and that any woman who claims that she
can do so is deluded.
This 'false consciousness' or 'dissociation' notion is pure sophistry.
It is a very clever way to insult the intelligence of sex workers in
this country. On the other hand, the prostitution charity Ruhama seems
to believe that sex workers' male clients are freely choosing to
"demean" these women. As a man, I do not think I have some superior
decision-making faculty which, according to Ruhama, allows me to make
choices that women cannot. In fact, I cannot think of a more
anti-feminist, sexist position to hold.
Moreover, I find it amazing that the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and supposedly feminist organisations like the National Women's Council of Ireland and Ruhama believe
that women are capable of making incredibly difficult and complex
decisions when it comes to abortion, but somehow lose this capability
when it comes to sex. (I fully support abortion rights, by the way.)
I am sure organisations like Ruhama do much good for women who have
reluctantly entered the sex industry through trafficking, drug abuse,
etc. I fully support their endeavours in this regard. What does make me
angry is their thinly-veiled contempt for brave, independent women like Laura Lee
who do not see sex work as inherently harmful or degrading. Worse
still, there seems to be a palpable disgust with aspects of male
sexuality in much of the commentary from Ruhama and similar
institutions. One need only examine the monumentally daft Lose The Lads' Mags campaign to sense it.
The Irish state has no right to prohibit any kind of consensual sexual
activity between adults. For too long, we allowed the Catholic Church to
run our lives and dictate sexual morality to us. Now that we've finally
thrown off those oppressive religious restraints, why should we burden
ourselves with a new set of moral shackles just so that the
politically-correct, pseudo-liberal brigade can pat themselves on the
Former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket and no-wash/no work protests which led to the hunger strikes of the 80s. Completed PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and went on to become a journalist. Co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analyzed the Irish peace process. Lead researcher for the Belfast Project, an oral history of the Troubles.