Paying for sexual services has become a criminal offence in Northern Ireland, under new hardline laws against trafficking.
In June, Northern Ireland joined countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Canada, in making the purchase of sexual services illegal, when its assembly voted in favour of the tough new measures. Lord Morrow, the architect of the new human trafficking laws, held an event for members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) of Northern Ireland, and non-governmental organisations, to mark the implementation of the new criminal offence.
Lord Morrow is one of two Democratic Unionist MLAs for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, alongside Arlene Foster, and was made a life peer in June 2006.
The new legislation aims to help tackle one of the principal drivers behind human trafficking in Northern Ireland. It is understood that the Republic of Ireland is also considering making the purchase of sexual services illegal.
Mark Baillie, Northern Ireland policy officer for charity CARE, said, ‘Making paying for sexual services illegal is an important part of any legislation that seeks to deal with the causes of human trafficking, rather than simply dealing with the symptoms. Evidence shows clearly that far from being separate entities, prostitution and human trafficking are linked. Now the work begins in making sure the new trafficking laws have the desired effect in helping victims of trafficking and exploitation in Northern Ireland’.