Ahead of a Knesset discussion of a bill seeking to make paying for sexual services a criminal offense, a poll released Tuesday found that the majority of the public is against criminalizing the solicitation of prostitutes.
Some 63 percent of respondents to the Geocartography Institute poll, commissioned by the Association for the Regularization of Prostitution in Israel, agreed that criminal punishment should not be given to those who buy sexual services from prostitutes if both sides agree to the transaction.
The poll was conducted among 506 adult Jewish-Israeli respondents.
The survey found that 54% of women and 73% of men do not see soliciting a prostitute as a criminal offense.
The Association for the Regularization of Prostitution in Israel claims that legislation criminalizing prostitution would mainly harm women who work as prostitutes.
"Among other things, this law would prevent those in social services and welfare from having access to the women, whose activities would be pushed underground. It would also prevent women from reporting abuse from customers from fear that they would be incriminating themselves," said the head of the association who goes under the assumed name Shelly.
"A woman has the exclusive right to decide if she wants to work in prostitution and it is forbidden for anyone to interfere," she added. "That is the meaning of feminism and we must put an end to the condescension and paternalism of politicians and others who purport to speak for the prostitutes and determine what is good for them."