Safety for Sex Workers

Ugly Mugs is a not-for-profit technology initiative that improves the safety of sex workers in Ireland and reduces crimes committed against them, by bringing workers together to share information about potential dangers.  We support the right of sex workers to engage in their work as safely as possible.

Visit our For Sex Workers section for full information about our ugly mug scheme.

Visual of Ugly Mugs mobile app

Ugly Mugs Stats

Please visit our news section for the latest stats on crime against sex workers in Ireland.

Ugly Mugs Geography

We are the leading ugly mug scheme in Ireland.  Although we welcome members from all parts of Ireland, we can only referral to support services including police in Northern Ireland.   For England, Scotland and Wales, we recommend National Ugly Mugs.

Ugly Mugs History has been online since 2009.  In 2019 we turned 10 years old!

The practice of sex workers sharing information with each other to try to stay safe is not new, it is probably as old as sex work itself, but is a very modern manifestation of this concept.

The word "mug" in English can mean face, and when we say "ugly mugs" we are saying ugly faces and we mean bad people. The first so called "ugly mug" schemes were started in the late 1980s by organisations in Australia and then the UK. They would put warning notices up in their drop-in centres or distribute warning leaflets to workers on outreach.

"Ugly mugs" isn’t the only term used to describe such schemes. In North America, the term “bad date lists” is often used.

Whilst some customers of sex workers are abusive, we find most people who abuse workers are not customers.  This is why we prefer the term "ugly mugs" to "bad date list".

When sex work went online, warnings about dangers then started getting posted online. What we did in Ireland with is utilise technology to take ugly mug schemes to a new and more advanced level. We were the world's first online ugly mug scheme and thus we are also now the world's oldest online ugly mug scheme.