Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 14:27 UK

Ireland 'enmeshed in sex trade'

Many trafficking victims are forced into prostitution
Many trafficking victims are forced into prostitution

An organisation which works with women involved in prostitution has warned that Ireland is now "firmly enmeshed in the global sex trade".

Ruhama said it was concerned about the number of underage girls, some as young as 15, who were being lured into prostitution.

The organisation, which is marking its 20th anniversary, launched its Biennial Report for 2007 and 2008 on Monday.

A spokesperson said they had seen an increase in street-based prostitution.

Geraldine Rowley said this had happened since the economic downturn and was apparent on both sides of the border.

"We supported 341 women who have been affected by prostitution in Ireland and of those 55 were new referrals who were trafficked into Ireland," she said.

"Seven of those were trafficked into Northern Ireland.

"Six of the overall number who were trafficked into Ireland were under 19 and I can confirm that some of them were based in Northern Ireland."

Of the 341 women cared for by Ruhama between 2007 and 2008, fewer than 50% were Irish nationals.

Most of the women trafficked into Ireland were originally from Eastern European countries and Nigeria.

The charity said the women were brought into Dublin, Cork and Belfast before being moved around the island.

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