Should paying for sex be illegal?
There are two arguments that often come to the surface in debates about prostitution. One is that it is exploitative and/or immoral - and should therefore be banned - while the other says that what happens between two consenting adults is nobody's business, least of all legislators. However, this battle is soon set to play out in the law courts.
Northern Ireland is currently the only region of the UK where it is illegal to pay for sex. However, Laura Lee has spoken out against this ban, arguing that it is against European human rights law. Ms Lee is a worthy opponent of the ban, as she is both a sex worker and a law graduate.
"I am doing this because I believe that when two consenting adults have sex behind closed doors and if money changes hands then that is none of the state’s business," Ms Lee told the Guardian. Like many sex workers in Northern Ireland, She worries that the ban will drive her profession underground and make it more dangerous.
Ms Lee was born in Dublin and is currently based in Scotland, but she travels to Northern Ireland to see clients on a regular basis. Now, she has launched a legal challenge and will be appearing in Belfast's high court.
The ban on paying for sex comes from a bill largely concerning human trafficking. Ms Lee obviously does not want to overturn the entire bill, but believes that it goes counter to several human rights such as the right to privacy, protection from degrading treatment and even the right to life.
"The law they have introduced has nothing to do with people being trafficked but simply on their, the Democratic Union Party’s, moral abhorrence of paid sex," she said.
Of course, plenty of people are all for the bill - which passed 81 votes to ten - also claiming that it makes life safer for exploited women. It seems that this is an argument that will continue for some time, with some people happy to see consenting adults pay for sex and some firmly against the practice.