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Northern Ireland will be the first part of the UK to criminalize buying sex

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In October, members of the Stormont assembly voted in favour of a bill that would criminalize buying sex in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday, December 10th, Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill was voted through at the Final Stage. Once it receives Royal Assent, will be the first dedicated anti-slavery legislation to be passed into law by any UK parliament or assembly in more than 200 years.

The legislation will criminalize paying for sexual services, enact tougher punishment for traffickers, exempt victims of trafficking from conviction “for all but the most serious of crimes committed while they were being exploited,” establish independent guardians to protect and advocate for children who have been trafficked, and create a statutory support service to assist adult victims of trafficking.

From the CARE press release:

The Bill also creates a new offence of forced marriage and will place a duty on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide support for those wishing to leave prostitution.

A recent poll shows that 78 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland (and 82 per cent of women) is in favour of criminalizing the purchase of sex.

There is clearly a growing consensus, worldwide, that the best way to combat exploitation and trafficking is by tackling demand and by supporting prostituted women and girls.

The CARE press release notes that the parliament at Westminster are currently considering the Modern Slavery Bill and that the Scottish Government have just committed to introducing their own human trafficking bill as part of the new programme for government.

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