Criminalising paying for sex could send a clear mesage to those involved in human trafficiking, according to Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale.
The DUP MLA was speaking during an assembly debate on human trafficking and exploitation.
She said: “It is hard to know exactly how many people are trafficked into Northern Ireland, as many people are kept in fear and slavery, so may never be discovered.
“However, it is clear that most people trafficked into Northern Ireland are exploited by those who pay for sex. This Bill will introduce a new offence, which criminalizes the purchase of sexual services in all circumstances. I hope that the criminalization of paying for sex would simplify current laws and make it easier to secure convictions that send a clear message to traffickers.
Mrs Hale said: “Prostitution is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. The men, women and children involved risk physical assault, sexual violence, and verbal abuse every day. According to most recent statistics, at least 65 women in prostitution in the UK have been murdered in the last 18 years.
“Clearly human trafficking and exploitation is multi-faceted, but we must ensure that we protect those most at risk in our society.
“Victims of human trafficking have already been through a horrendous ordeal before they assist with investigation or prosecution of their traffickers. This Bill will also seek to protect victims, both children and adults, from further stress and anxiety during investigation and prosecution of their traffickers.”