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Brothel in Letterkenny?

So read the front page of Monday’s newspaper. It would be easy to just to roll your eyes and move on, but to pause and read the article is to get a glimpse of the hurt involved. The paper was tipped off by a woman who describes herself as a “humiliated wife” who wants this business to close “before more devastation is caused”. There is a world of hurt behind those phrases.

And even that isn’t the whole picture. The glib comment made by some that “at least they’ve the wit to charge” misses out on the fact that most prostitutes aren’t their own masters. According to one survey 80% to 95% of all prostitution is pimp-controlled. The weak and the vulnerable are preyed on. Some may enter it for easy money, but many for desperately needed money, or are lured or forced in. It has a devastating effect on those involved. One fourteen year old, describing the trauma of prostitution and its consequences, stated, “You feel like a piece of hamburger meat—all chopped up and barely holding together”.

Naïve television programmes portray the business as glitzy and that it’s about women being in control, but for the majority of women that imagery lies far from the truth. One writer says, “About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape. Prostitutes are raped, on the average, eight to ten times per year. They are the most raped class of women in the history of our planet.” It is a brutal and eventually dehumanising business.

Naivety also plays its part among those who say, “This is just a bit of fun between consenting adults.” We need to ask “Just how consenting is the woman—or is she trapped in a lifestyle she can’t get out of?” On the rare occasions when that question can be addressed satisfactorily—such as a woman wanting to make extra money on the side—the question must also be asked, “What are the wider effects on society, in particular how men see and treat women?”

Prostitution is the end product of a greedy, self-centred society in which pleasure without responsibility has become the goal, where men get their pleasure without thought to the women involved. Sex has become a god to be worshipped and pursued at all costs.

And there is another involved party: God has something to say. The bad news is that he will hold guilty those who use and abuse women, and those who abuse his good gifts. The good news is that he is also a God who offers acceptance and hope to those trapped in the vicious circle, a God who offers cleansing to those despoiled by others, and offers forgiveness to those who have despoiled them.

(For those looking for more information and help, Irish charity Ruhama offers professional help in the practical issues involved in leaving prostitution behind. They can be contacted at or tel. 01 836 0292)

Mark Loughridge is the minister of Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church. He can be contacted on 074 9123961 or You can read more or listen online at