A conference organised jointly by the Party of European Socialists Women and Labour Women Ireland to mark the Irish presidency of the EU agreed that legislation to target the buyers of sex was the best way to deal with prostitution. The conference entitled “Objectification of Women” held in Dublin on Saturday also celebrated the Irish Labour Party’s centenary.
I want to thank Labour Women Ireland for hosting a great event. The panel discussions were lively and inspiring. I was particularly pleased to see my three Irish Labour Party MEP colleagues, Nessa Childers, Phil Prendergast and Emer Costello, taking part in each of the three panel sessions.
The first of these on women and the media was introduced by financial journalist Margaret E Ward from the Irish organisation “Women on Air”, which aims to get more women on television and radio. The next session tackled the thorny issue of women in decision-making, politics and the labour market starting with a very full presentation from Nat O’Connor from the Irish think tank TASC. Patricia King, General Officer of the SIPTU trade union, gave an inspiring and moving talk on her road to the top. The last session, “Women as objects: European response to human trafficking and the sex trade”, looked at ways to end the exploitation, abuse and trafficking of women and girls by introducing the kind of laws Sweden has had for over a decade whereby the buyers not the sellers of sex are the wrong-doers. Sweden has, in fact, seen a reduction in prostitution and organised crime since this legislation was put on the statute book.
My particular thanks to Sinead Ahern who organised the conference and to all the other women involved. I came away feeling energised as well as having enjoyed spending time with such a lively and committed group of women.