The Sexual Exploitation Research Project (SERP) at UCD has been awarded €80,000 from the Community Foundation for Ireland. 

The grant is part of €500,000 distributed from a Covid-19 response fund that was established through private and corporate donations. The foundation said combatting inequalities that have been widened during this pandemic is the focus of this funding.

The Sexual Exploitation Research Project was established in 2017 within UCD’s School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, and in 2020 joined UCD’s Geary Institute for Public Policy.  

SERP works in collaboration with the advocacy group Ruhama as well as the Immigrant of Ireland to document the process of exit and recovery from sexual exploitation, the barriers women face and the supports required to rebuild lives outside of the sex trade. 

With a focus on Ireland, SERP works to enhance understanding of the commercial sex trade, its impact on women and girls who are sexually exploited, on communities and on society at large.

SERP also works collaboratively with support services for victims and survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking on the ground, seeking to bridge the gap between academia and frontline practice in generating new knowledge, insights and solutions on these issues.

Their current research includes the health impacts of prostitution on women in the Irish sex trade (a collaboration between SERP and the HSE), sexual exploitation in the shadow of Covid-19, and assessing the changing nature of commercial sexual exploitation of the girl child in the Irish context. 

SERP received the largest monetary award with other projects focusing on food poverty, migrant workers and Travellers also receiving large awards to further their work in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sarah Eiland – Reporter