Prostitution and trafficking 'intrinsically linked'

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A former prostitute told members of the Justice Committee that "prostitution and sex trafficking are intrinsically linked", on 6 February 2014.

Mia De Faoite was giving evidence on Clause 6 of Lord Morrow's Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, which would make it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland.

Ms De Faoite told the committee how she had become a prostitute in order to pay for her heroin addiction.

She said she was "one of the lucky few" who had escaped from a life of prostitution.

The witness said she had worked next to a trafficked woman on the Burlington Road in Dublin and that "her trafficker, controller, watched everywhere she went".

"She was addicted to crack and he was the dealer," she added.

Ms De Faoite said many people "don't believe a prostituted woman can be raped".

She described an incident in which she and a friend had been gang-raped.

"Human beings are capable of anything," she said.

Ms De Faoite spoke in favour of the law in Sweden, where it was illegal to pay for sex.

"Sweden placed human dignity first," she said.

Asked about evidence that had been given to the committee by academics who were opposed to Clause 6 of the bill, Ms De Faoite said she "would never understand women who fight to keep women in sexual exploitation".

"You will get two or three of them in every sociology department in every university," she said.

The Attorney General, John Larkin, briefed the committee on guidance to criminal justice professionals under section 8 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 and its proposed extension to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The guidance is intended to ensure that criminal justice organisations can be confident that their work is compliant with international human rights standards.

The committee was also briefed on legal aid and youth justice.

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