Local TDs are being challenged to use the new Dáil term to introduce laws targeting sex buyers in order to end abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

The call by The Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) this morning follows a unanimous recommendation from the Oireachtas Justice Committee for such laws. The recommendation followed an extensive process that attracted more than 800 written submissions and public hearings.

ICA is one of 68 organisations that form the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, which is seeking new laws and has the support of trade unions, employers, emergency workers, survivors of prostitution, farming groups, human rights organisations and many more.

Spokesperson Liz Wall National President of the ICA said: “A milestone has been reached in the efforts to shut down the pimps and traffickers whose actions have brought organised crime to every part of Ireland, including our local communities.

“It is now well over a year since the Government announced a review of the laws on prostitution. Since then the Oireachtas Justice Committee has examined the issues involved in detail and come to the unanimous conclusion that the way forward is to introduce laws targeting the buyers of sex.

“While we have engaged fully in the Government review, the criminals have continued their work with 19 children discovered in Irish ‘commercial sex’ during 2012 and an average of 800 women for sale online every day.”

The ICA is now calling on local TDs throughout Ireland to ensure there is no further delay and to seek the introduction of legislation as a matter of urgency.

“It is also important that local people continue to call for the ending of this crime in our communities and we are asking them to add their voice to the campaign through www.turnofftheredlight.ie/action. The opportunity for change in this important area and to offer hope to hundreds of women has arrived, if we let it slip by then many more will end up trapped in a life of threats, abuse and violence.”