‘Black Women Against the Sex Trade’ event to focus on Ireland’s global example in criminalising buyers of sex

Fri 27th Nov 2020

The global advocacy group SPACE International will host a webinar from Dublin entitled ‘Black Women Against the Sex Trade’ on Friday, 27th November 2020, from 1pm to 2pm.

The webinar will feature survivors of prostitution from the USA, the Netherlands and South Africa, speaking about the disproportionate impact of prostitution on women of colour, and why they are seeking to replicate Irish-style legislation – which criminalises buyers of sex – in their own countries.

The speakers at the webinar will be:

Mickey Meji from Cape Town, South Africa, a survivor of the sex trade, a leading human rights activist, and founder of Africa’s first prostitution survivor movement, the Survivor Empowerment and Support Programme.

Marian Hatcher from Chicago, USA, a survivor of sex trafficking and domestic violence, who has worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for the past 13 years, where she is the Senior Project Manager for the Office of Public Policy, as well as the Human Trafficking Coordinator.

Roëlla Lieveld from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the founder and director of Share Network, an organisation that creates opportunities for survivors of human trafficking to thrive.

Vednita Carter from St. Paul, USA, the founder of Breaking Free, a non-profit organisation that helps women escape sex trafficking and prostitution.

The event will be moderated by Salome Mbugua, founder of AkiDwA, Ireland’s migrant women’s network, and a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Commenting in advance of the event, Irishwoman Rachel Moran, founder of SPACE International, said:

“The most effective way to reduce prostitution is to address demand. In Ireland, a legal deterrent to purchasing sexual access to women was introduced in 2017 with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act. This law has sent a clear signal to the organised crime gangs that run the Irish sex trade that sexual exploitation will not be tolerated by the authorities here. Across the world, prostitution survivors are campaigning for similar laws to be introduced. We will hear from some of those campaigners during Friday’s event.”

The SPACE International webinar is open for members of the public to attend, free of charge. Advance registration is required at:

  • "My body, mind, and spirit survived so many things for so many years. The sexual exploitation and violence I endured was almost like something that happened to someone else. If I had told myself the truth about what was being done to me, my psyche would have splintered into a million pieces."
    - Autumn Burris, Denver, USA
  • "When New Zealand passed full decriminalisation, things changed in unexpected ways and I came to understand that the myths of legal protection, autonomy, increased choice and greater community acceptance were unfounded.. The myth of health being better was proved false in less than 6 months of the law reform. Women were kissing and risking herpes, doing oral sex without condoms with the risk of throat warts, doing rougher and riskier practices just to get the jobs.. I dealt with punters changing expectations. I had no choice but to fight against this model ever spreading to another country."
    - Sabrinna Valisce, Melbourne, Australia
  • "When I look back now I see that prostitutuion lured and consumed those of us who were already marginalised in society. If you were poor, if you were disadvantaged, if you had come from a broken home or had vulnerabilities connected to prior cycles of abuse, especially sexual abuse, prostitution was there waiting for you. Prostitution is a trap, and it’s not a coincidence that all over the world it ensnares those who are already struggling to survive."
    - Rachel Moran, Dublin, Ireland
  • "Remembering friend’s I have lost along the way, and taking a glance at all the violence, rape and inhumane activities, I just can’t help but recognize my luck to alive today."
    - Mickey Meji, Cape Town, South Africa
  • "At the tender age of fifteen I was coerced into the brutal world of prostitution, I immediately lost my identity. I liken my day to day life to being on the front lines of a battlefield. I spent the next eleven years shut down and disassociated. I supressed feelings of shame and disgust constantly, by telling myself that this was a job like any other."
    - Fiona Broadfoot, Bradford, UK
  • "Just because dancing (stripping) is legal does not mean it’s not violence against women - Stripping and prostitution go hand in hand."
    - Vednita Carter, St Paul, USA
  • "What I know today is that women are victimised by the system of prostitution by innumerable perpetrators, and at the same time victimised by a society which is not only allowing but encouraging prostitution by accepting it as a 'job like any other'. We are victims of a society blind in one eye, advancing the wealth of a privileged few over the suffering of an incalculable number of women and children."
    - Marie Merklinger, Stuttgart, Germany
  • "For me, sexual abuse was a direct route into prostitution. The same kind of destructive abuse chosen by myself, because I knew this feeling and recognised myself in this situation, even though the situation traumatised me over and over again."
    - Tanja Rahm, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "I was able to exit prostitution and rebuild my life, and with that my education became a tool. I was recognized for my tenacity and my strength and have been able now to be an asset to my community and to my people."
    - Bridget Perrier, Toronto, Canada
  • "Many people ask me, how did I get into prostitution, was I “trafficked” or was I a willing participant? What many don’t understand is - however we entered - what the act of prostitution does to us; how it slowly strips us of any semblance of ourselves, as we try to sell part of our bodies, while keeping our soul intact. Prostitution preys on the most vulnerable; it takes us places we never intended to go, all driven by those who feel entitled to pay for our bodies. "
    - Cherie Jimenez, Boston, USA
  • "It might surprise you, but it can happen to anyone. No you’re not exempt. I wasn’t."
    - Marian Hatcher, Chicago, USA
Read more testimonials
"Just because dancing (stripping) is legal does not mean it’s not violence against women - Stripping and prostitution go hand in hand."
- Vednita Carter, St Paul, USA
Read more testimonials