Mia De Faoite
Mia de Faoite is an activist and survivor of prostitution. She campaigned tirelessly for the introduction of the Nordic Model law in the Republic of Ireland. (The photo shows her holding a copy of the Act that implemented it.)
On the 27th March 2017, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 was enacted [in the Republic of Ireland]. […]
It contains many necessary changes and amendments including a legal definition of consent. Right in the centre of the Act is Part 4, which criminalises the purchase of a human being for sex.
Although the legislation itself does not contain the words ‘human being’, I state it here to serve as a reminder and an acknowledgement of the fact that that is what happens. Part 4 makes it clear that consent cannot be purchased, that women and girls are not for sale.
Part 4 proved to be the most contentious and yet it was the most important because it is the one part that changes the playing field. It formally removed the female body from the market and by doing that Ireland has taken the biggest step in gender equality. I say this because we could give as many lessons on sexual consent as we like but as long as it remained legal for anyone to go online or drive down a street and buy a woman and very often a girl, the confusion would remain. And that confusion filters through to our homes, schools and workplaces, Part 4 ends that confusion. Ireland now has a real chance to change attitudes and behaviour towards women and girls, alongside other aspects of the Act and the impact of the #metoo campaign. I am not naive enough to believe that things will change overnight, the Act especially Part 4 needs to be fully acknowledged, fully supported and fully implemented because although contentious, it is the essence of the Act and it is my #metoo.
Law and justice may not be the same thing but they are without doubt connected. I have long since let go of the fact that my rapists and abusers will never be brought to justice, in fact that is something you must do in order to survive prostitution. For those who bought me, who ‘didn’t know’ my story, who never asked, who looked past my drug-addicted body, who looked past my lost eyes, who surrendered their ability to think in order to satisfy their own wants, well now you know and if you still don’t get it, there is now a law in place to ensure that you do.
It is seven years since the last time I was bought, I am no longer afraid and will never be afraid again and I have managed to reclaim both my body and mind. Prostitution and rape was prepared to hand me out a life sentence, a sentence I have refused to accept, I have served enough time, my debt is clear and I wanted my life back. I live with faded scars and some baggage but my baggage has been through customs, all has been declared and I have been cleared to go. So, if demons even attempt to torment me, they must prepare to be challenged for they do not have permission, they do not have consent to haunt me anymore.
For a longer version of this article, see Speech by Mia de Faoite, 21.5.18.