Maura Butler appointed as Independent Expert to conduct the Review of the 2017 legislation which criminalises payment for sexual activity with a prostitute or a trafficked person
review will be conducted in an open and consultative way and will include an online survey, to be launched in the coming weeks
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has welcomed the commencement, by Maura Butler, of a review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.
The Sexual Offences Act 2017 removes those who offer their services as a prostitute from the existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. Part 4 of the Act introduced two new offences - paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person.
Welcoming the commencement by Ms Butler, Minister McEntee said:
"A key purpose for the 2017 Act was to provide additional protection to persons involved in prostitution, especially vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking. By reforming the law to criminalise the purchase of sex, we hoped to ensure that persons engaged in prostitution would feel free to provide information to Gardaí, for instance where they have been subjected to violence by clients, without fear of prosecution for selling sexual services."
The 2017 Act specifically provided for a review of these provisions after a period of 3 years, including an assessment of the impact of the Act on the welfare of those who engage in sexual activity for payment.
Minister McEntee continued:
"I am pleased to announce that Maura Butler will carry out this review. With her significant expertise in legal practice as well as academia, coupled with her experience of other research teams, including as Study Lead of the Familicide and Domestic Homicide Review Study, I am confident that she will conduct this important work thoroughly and efficiently."
Publishing the Terms of Reference for the review, the Minister said:
"The goal of the legislation is to protect vulnerable persons and, in this context, the review will include consideration of whether further measures are needed to strengthen protection for persons who engage in sexual activity for payment."
Chair of the Review, Maura Butler, said:
"I wish to thank Minister Flanagan for appointing me, and Minister McEntee for the continuing confidence placed in me to carry out this important review of the operation of Part 4 of the 2017 Act. I will ensure that this work is done in a fair, objective, inclusive and transparent manner."
Minister McEntee confirmed that the review will be conducted in an open and consultative manner, saying:
"I know that Maura intends to include the views of those who are engaged in prostitution, and those who have been victims of human trafficking, in carrying out this review. I fully support this approach which I hope will ensure that we can fully assess the impact of the Act’s operation on their safety and wellbeing."
While the precise format will be carefully considered in line with developments in relation to the necessary restrictions on meetings, events and interpersonal contacts, it is expected that the review will involve discussions with a wide range of stakeholders. An online survey will be launched in the coming weeks as part of a public consultation process, and written submissions will also be accepted.
Further information on the consultation process will be available on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.ie,
and the Terms of Reference of the Review are available here.
Terms of Reference: Review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 (‘The Act’) was enacted on 22 February 2017 and commenced on 27 March 2017. The Act has a broad reach across numerous areas of sexual offences. The Act, under section 4, criminalises the purchase of sexual services.
It also enhances and updates laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, including new offences relating to child sexual grooming and new and strengthened offences to tackle child pornography. The Act also introduces new provisions regarding the giving of evidence by victims in sexual offence trials and introduces a new offence addressing public indecency. Other provisions include maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence as well as a statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts.
The remit of this review focuses only on Part 4 of the Act which deals with purchase of sexual services.
Biography for Maura Butler
Maura Butler BA (Legal Science), LL. B, MSc IT in Education is a solicitor with 35 years post qualification experience in a combination of practice, academic and professional training roles, as a criminal trial lawyer, lecturer, author, editor, legal practitioner trainer, Board member and conference speaker.
She has proactively volunteered that commitment and associated skills in civil society environments, to facilitate the dissemination of best practice in criminal justice and to champion parity democracy for women in all aspects of their lives.