Campbell, R., Smith, L., Leacy, B., Ryan, M., & Stoica, B. (2020). Not collateral damage: Trends in violence and hate crimes experienced by sex workers in the Republic of Ireland. Irish Journal of Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0791603520939794
The Republic of Ireland’s new Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 (2017 Act) criminalised sex purchase. Drawing on primary data from reports made by sex workers in Ireland to UglyMugs.ie, we analyse trends in violent and other crimes against sex workers in Republic of Ireland (hereafter Ireland). Examining the four-year period 2015–2019, we highlight the various crimes sex workers experience, including incidents of hate crime. Analysis of UglyMugs.ie data found that crimes (including violent offences) against sex workers increased following the introduction of the new law and continued with low levels of reporting of said crimes to the police. The data suggest that the 2017 Act heightens the risks for sex workers. Here, we advocate an intersectional framework to provide a more nuanced understanding of how sex workers in Ireland experience violent and other hate crimes. We suggest that considering the international research evidence, the most conducive framework in which to reduce violence against sex workers is that of full decriminalisation. But as others have pointed out that legal reform needs to be in tandem with other policies and a refocusing of police resources on sex worker safety, better enabling reporting and access to justice.