This should be an open letter to Aid agencies really. I thought it might actually be read here though, as Aid agencies..they don’t seem to listen to much.

Lets take the good things. The good women of these agencies, they work to rescue victims. Victims of prostitution, trafficking, general abuse. I don’t know, but I hope, that these agencies also help those addicted to substances exit prostitution, as of course these women probably need help. I know Ruhama do great work with victims of trafficking, helping them to relocate, find accommodation and employment. For this, Ruhama should be praised and funded.

I understand they rescued at least seven victims of trafficking and helped scores of others with counselling and other network support. I hope Ruhama also provide an outreach van, where they head to the streets daily, hand out clean needles to street workers, also offer an Ugly Mug service to them. You know, the actual stuff they really need to stop them from dying from shared needle use and associated illnesses?Help them avoid being beaten up and killed? Until they get ready to seek help? Maybe check they are ok, fed, not scared? Translate for them? – I hope so, because I really think maybe those women are just as vulnerable.  And of course, we all help fund this help, so its good to see its working. I also hope Ruhama have ex sex workers on their who better to advise? It would be hard, to judge this situation as anything else, wouldn’t it? I really hope you offer that Ruhama. Its got to be of the same value as a polished Ad campaign.

Now lets take the bad stuff. There are at least 800 known sex workers in Ireland working at any given period. You know this, because there are profiles to reflect this. They don’t access your service, but undoubtably, some of them may be victims. however the majority actually are not. I know this, I and lots of my friends, are not, support a bill that will criminalise our clientele? On the basis this will stop trafficking? Are we to assume then that seven hundred and forty people have just not been rescued or arrested yet? Don’t you think stopping trafficking might begin with starting to communicate and work with the escorting community, instead of making them further isolated? Are clients and escorts not the best people to alert others of possible issues? This is a strange idea. Did criminalizing homosexuality stop homosexuality? Men will always seek to buy sex. It’s the oldest profession, up there from the beginning of Christianity. So…Why no compromise? Why not push for a Bill that criminalises Sex with a trafficked Woman, knowingly or unknowingly? Why try to control the morality and future of the majority? Ruhama is supposed to mean new beginnings. Rebirth!  I like this. I fail to see why your new beginnings can only be for the minority. We need to go forward and learn about each other. That will not happen while you make us sinners for wishing to do legally what you wish to criminalize, thus pushing our work further into illicit means and much more vulnerable to assault, abuse, and further lack of care. I won’t go away, Ruhama. I will just be pushed further into the dark. So where is my new beginning?


4 comments on “Acceptance

  1. ALISTAIR says:

    Yes Ruhama helps victims of sexual abuse. But having seen who their founders, trustees and board of directors are, people should remain vigilant and skeptical and unconvinced that they care about women in prostitution from an overall perspective.

    In my opinion i feel like they mislead politicans and the wider public at large to be against women involved in prostitution. They want to end prostitution? What about the sex workers who do not want to end being a prostitute? oh the shock of it, to Ruhama they are only prostitutes, oh their choices don’t matter, they should be all stopped, down with that sort of thing etc. Ruhama looks down on them as if they are pieces of scum that needs to be cleaned, everyone with any interest in the safety of sex workers should be extremely concerned about the real motives of Ruhama, yes their real motives, they want to wipe prostitution out, yet don’t seem to care about the sex workers they are affecting through discrimination, look at the way the journalists are acting for instance, they are fed up to their eye balls with negativity from Ruhama and sex workers are being secretly filmed by television progams by journalists who should really mind their own business.

    One reason why people should be concerned about the motives of Ruhama as regards to prostitution is that they only want to support people who are affected by prostitution and trafficking, that is their website logo. Ok thats fair enough, full credit to helping victims affected by prostitution and trafficking. But what about the women that are not affected by prostitution or trafficking? what about those womens voices? why are they so often shunned ?

    Why should women in prostitution who don’t want to be converted by Ruhama be automatically get to be considered victims or considered to be doing something that will destroy their souls or dignity because a Ruhama backed media campaign says so? What if women say they are not so negatively affected by prostitution to warrant contacting Ruhama?

    Are those women unaffected by prostitution not adults capable of rational choices to say yes to money for sex? are those women gone off the rails? to Ruhama they are all off the rails.
    There has to be fair debate and balance and i think its important for the women that are not negatively affected by prostitution to have a strong opinion and voice their stories about something so sensitive as prostitution, this blog by sex workers is very important.

    If escorts are having fun whilst doing escorting, then its only fair that the fun should be highlighted. The problem with Ruhama is they don’t want it to seem like fun, because in my opinion they don’t like nor care about escorts who won’t contact them and exit escorting. It just seems rather careless of them to just totally disregard escorts opinions that contradicts their anti-SexWork campaigns like TORL. So its best to look at what Ruhama for what they really are, they are an anti-SexWork organisation that is only concerned with supporting people affected by prostitution and trafficking, while being totally ignorant and careless to the many escorts that are not affected enough by prostitution to contact Ruhama and getting converted to actually stop doing it entirely. The TORL don’t deserve to be getting all the media attention, because they are one sided and biased. There has to be another side shown and at least this blog is honest and seems to be more open minded and for that this blog should be applauded.

    Also something worth highlighting is the Ruhama backed prime time program, it was a one sided ill informed disaster, the program was called profiting from prostitution, well prostitutes also profit from prostitution, many escorts don’t have anyone over them controlling them, so it was a devious TV program that was not in anyway balanced, it should have looked at the situation from an objective viewpoint and not from a one sided viewpoint with Ruhama snobs trying to make it appear as balanced debate, what a disaster. They call that balance? you can not have balance unless you look at all the aspects of people who profit from prostitution, independent sex workers also profit from prostitution, their opinions should have been highlighted aswell in the fairness of real balance.

    Ruhama pushes a one sided debate and calls it balanced, only ill informed people would fall for their devious tactics that threaten escorts. Prostitution should have been made fully legal in Ireland ages ago and brothels should have been regulated and made safer. Ruhama are backwards and while backwards thinking people exist, then its hard to make real progress into improving the safety of escorts who just want to be left alone and do their own thing and not have to deal with people like Ruhama who view what they do as a grave sin.

  2. Wendy Lyon says:

    Why not push for a Bill that criminalises Sex with a trafficked Woman?

    There actually is a law already against using the services of a trafficked person, Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

    I would like to see Ruhama push for an amendment to the law on brothel-keeping, to prevent it being applied to sex workers who are simply sharing premises, without the involvement of any third party managerial types. The British Home Office recognised in 2006 that this law “runs counter to advice that women should not work alone in the interest of safety”. I can’t see any logical reason why an organisation that opposes the criminalisation of sex workers wouldn’t support this change. It would clearly make a huge difference in terms of escort safety and wouldn’t conflict with their position on criminalising clients and pimps.

    (And my usual bugbear… I’d also like to see them make more of a stink about the immigration laws and social welfare system which limit the alternatives available to many sex workers, particularly migrants.)

  3. Eileen Lang says:

    May I am going to make myself unpopular here, but as far as I can tell Ruhama is effectively redundant.

    As you rightly point out Wendy, we already have stringent laws against trafficking that need enforcing, and *ALL* victims of trafficking (whether sexual or not) are equally abused and traumatised and deserving of the same treatment and resources as sexually trafficked women…but trafficking is a totally different issue to prostitution…and should be kept seperate.

    Ruhama are claiming to support and speak for “women in prostitution” but I cannot find any “women in prostitution” who want the legislation to take their incomes away and/or eradicate their livelihood that Ruhama have lately devoted themselves to campaigning for. I can’t even find any women in prostitution who want to engage with Ruhama at all beyond being polite and/or appeasing them.

    I chose that last word “appeasing” with care because, right from the start (in 1989) until now, the most universal attitude to Ruhama I have found among sex workers is a sense of needing to appease Ruhama, “or else”.

    That, in and of itself, is wrong.The government should not be funding any organisation that makes the people it claims to support feel threatened!

    Whatever the original intention (and with the same two orders not closing their Magdalene Laundries until 1996, 7 years after founding Ruhama, it requires some serious mental gymnastics to assume those intentions to have been spotless by today’s standards) Ruhama has consistently failed to win the trust, or meet the needs, of women in prostitution for 23 years.

    23 years after they were founded, Ruhama still does not seems to have any sex workers or former sex workers on salary as cleaners, let alone at decision making levels!

    Sex workers are not children or pound dogs…they are more than capable of articulating their needs, limits and opinions for themselves, so there does come a time when you have to ask yourself why on earth the state is paying €700,000 pa for an organisation that excludes them and claims to speak for them without mandate, or even real consultation?

    Think how many women could be offered real chances to exit prostitution from within mainstream educational, vocational and other services with that €700,000 instead?

    The recession has hit, the days of big, grant harvesting NGOs is over in a far more general sense, more of them are losing funding (largely due to value for money issues) every year and their places are being taken over by far more effective and representative self funding stakeholder co-operatives in every area, why not also sex work?

    Give sex workers a legal amnesty for the next 3 years and full facillitation to set up their own peer representative group or union, and let whatever remains of Ruhama be amalgamated with their sister organisations, Irish Council for Immigration and Doras Luimni, into a single organisation concerned with trafficking, asylum seekers and the significant human rights issues in our immigration services that can be tackled more easiliy no we are bust and nobody much wants to immigrate anyway…so there is really no excuse for retaining punitive deterrant arrangements for asylum seekers.

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