Ruhama have been supporting women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking since 1989. We have seen how prostitution has negatively impacted on women’s liberty, bodily autonomy and physical and mental wellbeing. Many of the women we work with experience trauma, dissociation and PTSD resulting from sexual violence, routine violations of sexual boundaries and the commodification of their consent.
Prostitution and sex trafficking is also a hugely gendered phenomenon – the vast majority of those who are bought and sold for sex across the world and in Ireland are women and girls. These women and girls are frequently from severely marginalised and disadvantaged communities, their circumstances compounded by high levels of poverty, abuse and coercion. Almost all purchasers of sex worldwide are male.
As a result of what we know and what we’ve seen, we recognise prostitution as a form of violence against women and a persistent form of gender inequality worldwide. Ruhama’s vision is of a more equal society in which sexual exploitation does not exist. One in which women can pursue genuine alternatives to prostitution, free from constraints such as poverty, inequality, coercion and drug use.
In working towards this vision, our mission is to:
- Reach out and provide support services (‘support services’ link to Our Services page) to women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation
- Based on individual need, to offer assistance to explore alternatives to prostitution
- Work to change public attitudes, practices and policies which allow the exploitation of women through trafficking and prostitution.
Importance of support and exit services for women involved in prostitution
Women in prostitution can face substantial practical and psychological barriers to exiting, including trauma, addiction, and coercion by other individuals. The availability of tailored support services like Ruhama play a critical role in whether a woman is able to exit prostitution. Our mission is to provide support services that serve the complex needs and recovery processes of women who have experienced prostitution.
Our work is guided by these five core principles:
- Providing a non-judgemental service
- Placing a high value on equality, inclusivity, cultural diversity, dignity and respect
- Affirming every woman’s right to society’s protection and respect
- Commitment to learning and to continual service improvement
- Accountability to the women we work with and our funders.