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Order of Business

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Senator David Norris

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I will. I join my colleagues in complimenting the Office of Public Works on the refurbishment of this Chamber, in particular the majolica decorative panels around the door cases. I visited this place before it was refurbished and it was in a very sorry state. However, I do not quite share the ecstasies of my colleagues about the beauty of this place. It seems to me that it is a frigid Victorian barn and the sooner we are out of it, the better.
The other matter I would like to raise is the noxious impact of a section of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, against which I railed at the time it was introduced. I indicated that I felt that it was a self-righteous and smug approach on the part of middle-class people to the most vulnerable section of our society. I warned that there would be a danger to health, a spreading of disease and a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on people who provide sexual services. This has been confirmed recently by the issuing of a series of reports which indicate that attacks on sex workers have increased dramatically. One report claims that the law change has forced the trade deeper underground and put sex workers under greater pressure to put themselves in riskier situations. One group said that it had received 1,635 reports from sex workers who were concerned about clients, which is a 61% increase over the previous year. A total of 137 of these incidents involved violence, including sexual assault, while 79 incidents of violence were reported in the first five months of last year. Even Ruhama has said that it has seen a rise in attacks. The statement from Ruhama's spokesperson said that there had definitely been a spate of attacks. I am glad that the Act included provision for a three-year review, but in light of this evidence, it is important that the Minister advances this review to look at the disastrous impact on the health and welfare of a very vulnerable section of our society.