Campaign shows 68% of men who contacted sex worker still asked about services despite tragic story

A hard-hitting video campaign has laid bare the grim reality for victims of Ireland's sex trade.

It exposes how callous punters can dehumanise women for their own gratification.

The video features real voicemails left for "Andreea", a fictitious prostitute who describes how she has been trafficked from Eastern Europe.

Despite hearing about her plight, more than two thirds of callers still persisted in asking for sexual services.

Sarah Benson, from Ruhama, the charity behind the new campaign, said: "We were immediately struck by the extent to which sex buyers saw 'Andreea' more as a service or a product, rather than an actual person.

"The language they used and the way they communicated with 'Andreea' just confirms to us the dehumanising nature of prostitution that so many of the women we support describe experiencing."

An advertisement for "Andreea" showing a silhouetted image posed seductively above a phone number was placed at a number of busy locations across Dublin and beyond.

Callers were greeted by the voicemail message of a bubbly young woman with an Eastern European accent who promised a fun, "sensual" time.

But her story took a dark turn when "Andreea" revealed she had been trafficked into Ireland's sex trade. The voicemail ends with "Andreea" asking the caller to leave her a message with their thoughts.

In just 20 days, over 1,000 contacts were received, including hundreds from male sex buyers.

Few were concerned about her circumstances.

Of those who had the opportunity to listen to her message and learn that "Andreea" had been trafficked, 68% still persisted in inquiring about the services she was offering.

Ms Benson added: "They displayed a completely callous disregard for a victim of Ireland's vicious sex trade. These buyers were only concerned with their own sexual gratification and getting the kind of sex acts they wanted, and did not seem to care that this was at the expense of a vulnerable woman in a clearly difficult situation.

"Prostitution and sex trafficking are forms of violence against women and girls, and Ruhama saw this campaign as the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the exploitation and abuse that women and girls experience in Ireland's sex trade."

It has been illegal to pay for sex in Ireland since last March.

Ms Benson said:"The attitudes of sex buyers revealed by the "Andreea" campaign make us even more convinced of the need for this legislation - to deter those who prey on the vulnerable and put their own needs above all else, and to stop them further fuelling the growth of this harmful trade.

"If we really want equality for women and girls then we must fight against the proliferation of the sex trade and the culture of male sexual entitlement it is predicated upon. This includes holding sex buyers to account for their actions and challenging their view of women as mere commodities."

- Digital desk

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