Irish sex web

Dublin's sex trade was largely centred on the Monto district, reputedly the largest red light district in Europe.

A major part of the demand came from the large number of British army military personnel stationed in Ireland at the time.

It estimates about 800 women work in prostitution indoors every day in Ireland and less than 200 engage in it on the streets in cities.

Prostitution was both highly visible and pervasive in 18th-century Dublin, centred on Temple Bar and reflected the whole spectrum of socioeconomic class, from street prostitutes, through organised brothels to high class courtesans, who were often illegitimate daughters of the upper class. The role of the prostitute in 18th century Ireland was at least partly a product of the double standard of female sexuality.

The changing nature of Irish society following the 1801 Act of Union saw a redefining of the status of women, with an idealisation of nuns at one extreme and a marginalisation of prostitutes at the other.

Yet it was estimated that there were 17,000 women working as prostitutes in Dublin alone, and a further 8 brothels in Cork.

Prostitution continued to exist in the form of individual women selling sexual services on the streets in cities, but it was a long time before organised prostitution was seen again.

During this period prostitutes were largely independent and had a good relationship with the Gardaí.

Pimping was almost unheard of, as were the other crimes previously associated with prostitution.

As in many other countries opposition to the Acts, provided a rallying cry for emerging women's movements.

Anna Haslam in Dublin and Isabella Tod in Belfast, both of the Ladies National Association, organised opposition and a recognition not only of the plight of these women but also of the root causes.

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