MKs and experts pointed to the need for additional holistic rehabilitation programs for trafficked women during a meeting on Monday of the Knesset Subcommittee on Women Trafficking.
The session, called to discuss possible solutions to the correlation between prostitution and drug use among trafficked women, saw welfare authorities testify that they were able to meet immediate demands, while other witnesses complained that challenges related to funding and the legal status of trafficked women created difficulties.
Subcommittee chairwoman Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) called data from the Knesset Research Center “extremely worrisome” and said they show a clear connection between prostitution and the use of psychoactive chemicals to enable women to confront emotional traumas.
“The fact that there is simply no center for drug and physical rehabilitation in a country that has such a wide-reaching phenomenon of women trafficking and prostitution is highly worrisome,” Zuaretz said. “We must act to immediately establish such a center.”
Zuaretz called on the government to clearly differentiate between women who had been victims of trafficking and foreign workers. The government, she argued, must establish a separate budget for trafficked women.
One woman who had been the victim of trafficking and wished to remain anonymous during her Knesset testimony said she had “used drugs to die” but that “someone up above did not want to take me. I am speaking in the name of those women. I am afraid that every time that there is no money for them, they will go back to prostitution, and it shadows the whole rehabilitation program.”
The woman said that when she was kidnapped in Lithuania at the age of 17 and brought to Israel, her kidnappers provided her with fake documents. As a result, she did not have any legal documentation and could not receive any health care or rehabilitation. Her deliverance, she said, came only after she was arrested, when she was allowed to participate in a drug rehabilitation program in prison.
Beatrice Rosen-Katz, director of the Ofek Nashi program for treating and assisting prostitutes, told the subcommittee that her Tel Aviv and Jerusalem emergency centers were both at 100 percent capacity.
“Women are asked to pay NIS 600 for three weeks of treatment,”
Rosen-Katz said. “The message is then for them to go and get a few more
customers in order to fund their rehabilitation.”
Galit Geva of the Welfare Ministry argued in response that “there have
not been any woman who have waited more than 24 hours” for immediate
intervention, adding that government services cooperate to ensure that
extra places are found in the event that the 13 available beds are full.
Nevertheless, Dr. Miki Dor, chair of the Interministerial Team for
Medical Treatment for Victims of Women Trafficking, said there was a
serious problem since “the country doesn’t offer any response” for the
150,000 people in Israel who do not have medical insurance, including
women who were brought illegally into the country. Dor recommended that
the coverage offered to citizens – which ensures that they are provided
with physical rehabilitation – be extended to trafficked women, even if
only for a limited period.