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Laura Lee to fight Northern Ireland ban on Escorting
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A high-profile sex worker is set to take her fight against Northern Ireland’s imminent ban on prostitution to the courts. Laura Lee plans to launch an unprecedented challenge in a bid to overturn new legislation making it illegal to pay for sex in the region. Due to come into effect in June, the law will result in Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK where paying for the services of a prostitute could result in a criminal conviction.
More than 17,000 people here reportedly pay for sex each year.

Law graduate Ms Lee said she will launch her case at Belfast’s High Court after June and is prepared to take her fight all the way to the European courts in Strasbourg. She claims the law breaches European human rights and will put sex workers in danger by driving the industry further underground. Ms Lee told Belfast Live: “Sex workers have been denied their rights long enough. I witnessed first-hand what happened in 1993 when criminalisation came in in the South. Up until then we’d an amazing relationship with the guards. Then they had to go chasing clients and we were left vulnerable. We then had to move further back from police and the clients knew we were vulnerable. Decriminalisation is the way forward. Let’s be clear on this; in 2014 there were no arrests or convictions for sex trafficking in Northern Ireland. There were however 70 separate incidents of violence against sex workers and that’s only going to get worse. Sex work is the only job I can think of which compels a woman to work on her own and that has got to stop. More criminalisation will make it worse and that’s why I’ve decided to take this forward. It will be High Court first, then the Supreme Court and then we would be looking at Europe. I have my legal team assembled. We are not playing here.”

Paid-for consensual sex is currently legal in Northern Ireland, though activities such as kerb-crawling, brothel-keeping and pimping are illegal.
Ms Lee plans to pay for the legal action through crowd-funding and backing from sex worker support groups.

The new legislation, championed by DUP peer Lord Morrow, was passed last October – despite serious concerns being voiced by Justice Minister David Ford.

The ban on paying for sex was included in Lord Morrow’s human
trafficking bill which was passed in the Assembly. Last October, the anti-trafficking bill passed the Stormont Assembly by 81 votes to 10. That was despite a survey showing 98% of sex workers were against the changes. At the time Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane said MLAs could show “this part of Ireland is not open for business for pimps”.

Lord Morrow insisted the new law was vital in tackling trafficking, arguing that outlawing payment would simplify legislation and send a message to offenders. Mr Ford insisted there was “100% agreement” between him and Lord Morrow regarding the need to tackle human trafficking. But he said he had concerns about the ability to properly police clause six – the ban on paying for sex. He voiced his fears after a report commissioned by his department said the introduction of such a law would be unlikely to act as a deterrent. The research also suggested 1% of those involved in the sex trade had been forced to join it.

Source: http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfas...rn-8905449

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