August 19, 2013

Author Rachel Moran visits MIA

Rachel Moran, author of 'Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution' offers her thoughts, analysis and advice to the MECPATH campaign.

On Wednesday July 31st author Rachel Moran visited Mercy International Association to take part in a round-table discussion on the issue of prostitution. Rachel was invited to MIA to share her first-hand experience as a prostituted woman in Ireland in the early-to-mid 1990s.  Rachel’s book ‘Paid For – My Journey Through Prostitution’ was published earlier this year, and recounts her personal experience of prostitution, giving a useful insight into the politics and the sociological factors at play in the sphere of prostitution.

Rachel was invited to MIA by Sr Denise Boyle, fmdm, manager of the MECPATH campaign. MECPATH (Mercy-End Child Prostitution and Trafficking in Hotels) is working to stop the use of hotels for child prostitution, pornography and trafficking.  The MECPATH campaign is organised by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy Ireland, and is co-ordinated by Mary Ryan, rsm and Sheila O’Gorman, rsm, both of whom are members of APT (Act to Prevent Trafficking), a faith-based group of 24 religious congregations and orders working against Trafficking in Persons (TIP).

The goal of the MECPATH campaign is to encourage hotels to adopt the ‘The CODE’ – a Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.  The CODE, promoted by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking) is a practical tool to facilitate the protection of children’s rights by the hotel industry.  Hotels that sign the CODE agree to develop a corporate policy with regards child prostitution and trafficking and to train staff to be aware of suspicious behaviour and warning signs. They also agree to work with the Gardaí and to put a system in place to deal with situations as they arise.  As part of their commitment they will submit an annual report to ECPAT and publicly report on their efforts.

The MECPATH campaign is also working to forge links and networks with NGOs and others working with prostitutes and in the area of anti-trafficking.  By making such connections the campaign can learn from the experiences of others and can also increase the potential for effective action.  As such, Rachel’s visit to MIA was of enormous value to the work of the MECPATH campaign.

During the round-table Rachel offered insights, observations and analysis of the current situation of prostitution and trafficking in Ireland.  She answered questions from the group and gave her thoughts, opinions and advice on the MECPATH campaign.  The discussion was also beneficial in terms of forging links with Rachel, both personally and professionally.

Throughout her memoir Rachel examines the psychological damage that occurs to women forced into this type of work.  She discusses the misconceptions, myths and normalisation of prostitution that prevail in society, as well as the real violence faced by prostitutes.  A topic that Rachel addresses in her book is the legalisation and decriminalisation of prostitution.  Rachel advocates the criminalisation of the purchase of sex and she supports the ‘Turn Off The Red Light’ campaign, which is working to end prostitution and sex trafficking to Ireland. Furthermore, Rachel is a founding member and the European co-ordinator of SPACE International – Survivors of Prostitution Abuse Calling For Enlightenment.  The aim of SPACE International is both to raise the public’s consciousness of the harm of prostitution and to lobby governments to act on these issues.

Also attending the discussion was MECPATH co-ordinator Mary Ryan, rsm; Patricia O’Donovan, rsm and Marie-Louise White, rsm from the Irish Congregation Leadership team; Mary Reynolds, rsm, MIA Executive Director and a number of MIA staff.

The inspiration for the MECAPTH campaign in Ireland came from work done by the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Mercy Investment Services in the US.  Mercy Investment Services, who work with other corporate responsibility groups on human trafficking, have encouraged hotels to adopt the ECPAT Code of Conduct.

To find out more about the MECPATH campaign, contact Denise Boyle, fmdm:
(01) 661 8061/ denise@mecpath.ie

Useful Resources:
ECPAT
The Code
Mercy Investment Services Anti-Trafficking Resources
Turn Off The Red Light
SPACE International

 

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