There has been an increase in the number of women becoming involved in prostitution, according to Ruhama, which is the organisation that works with prostitutes and victims of sex trafficking.

It says the number it saw last year increased by 4%, a quarter of whom were new sex workers.

Ruhama also says that while the numbers being trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation has remained around the same level, there has been a significant increase in on-street prostitution.

It is now calling for the introduction of new legislation not to criminalise prostitutes but those using them.

On any day, Ruhama says 1,000 women and girls are available to purchase for sex in apartments, hotels, private clubs, massage parlours and on the streets of cities and towns all over the country.

In its annual report, released today, the organisation says it helped 204 people last year, an increase of 4% on 2009.

A quarter of those were new victims, more than a third had been trafficked.

The organisation also says there has been a significant increase in the number of women becoming involved in street prostitution - up 9%.

Ruhama Chief Executive Sarah Benson says the report reveals the globalised nature of the Irish sex industry, with the women supported coming from 31 countries.

The organisation is calling on the Government to introduce new legislation to criminalise the buyers.