'Ugly Mugs' schemes have been in many parts of the world, as a tool to warn sex workers about violent people posing as clients - but until now, there have been no such projects formally set up in Ireland, as the Irish state - influenced by various anti-sex work organisations - has never felt the need to aid sex workers in making the job safer. As recent proposals to further criminalise sex workers show, the Irish state has not changed it's stance; however, there is now a formal ugly mugs scheme running in Ireland, faciliated by a project called Ugly Mugs.ie.
The new ugly mugs scheme uses modern technology in the form of an app that warns sex workers if they are receiving calls from a number that has an ugly mugs warning out against it.
As Digital Journal notes, "laws criminalising activities around prostitution mean sex workers must work alone and in private in order to work legally. Isolated, partially criminalised, stigmatised, marginalised, and without access to support services, the vulnerability of sex workers in Ireland is obvious". Violent people can pose as clients, knowing that sex workers in Ireland have to work alone if they wish to work legally - and if they're working with others, and therefore illegally, will be unlikely to feel able to report an attack. There are similiar laws in place in many countries across the region, and globally. Such laws make sex work more dangerous, which then allows people to argue for the further criminalisation of sex work - on the grounds that sex work is dangerous.
You can read more about the ugly mugs app, and download it for free, here. You can read further coverage of this issue here. For more information on what NSWP member organisations are doing in the region, read here.