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Twenty-six women who were victims of trafficking were found working in the sex trade in Ireland last year, a charity has said. Ruhama, which supports prostitutes, said two of the women were 18 when it began supporting them after they had been smuggled into the country as children.
Trafficked women are most likely to come from Nigeria, with gangs targeting the Edo state in the African country, and also routinely smuggling women from Brazil, Romania and Zimbabwe. Ruhama said its records showed women from 12 other countries were victims of smuggling including Albania, Bulgaria, Ireland, Bolivia, Portugal, Pakistan and six other African countries.
Sarah Benson, Ruhama chief executive, said: "The bulk of prostitution in Ireland is run by organised crime gangs who profit from the sexual exploitation of women and girls, particularly in off-street locations.
Since March this year it has been illegal for men to buy sex. The old vice law which saw women prosecuted for selling sex was repealed with the new regime to be reviewed in three years. Ms Benson said there is anecdotal evidence to suggest men who use prostitution are making more of an effort to establish if the woman is genuinely independent by asking if they are native English speakers.
Ruhama said demand for prostitution in Ireland is "prolific". It estimates about women work in prostitution indoors every day in Ireland and less than engage in it on the streets in cities. In its report on services and supports it was involved in last year it said that four trafficked women who it helped were asylum seekers or refugees living in direct provision.