(photo credit: Reuters)
A single mother from south Tel Aviv lured at least nine at-risk girls into
prostitution over the past two years, teaching them how to work the trade and
putting them in touch with customers, Tel Aviv Police reported on Monday
Police from the Yiftach subdistrict said they believe other
teenage girls were drawn into the sex trade by the woman over the past two
Insp. Yigal Dayan, head of the investigation, said the girls – all
between the ages of 14 and 16 – were not subjected to physical violence by the
male customers or the woman, though they are still investigating allegations
that one of the girls was raped by a client.
Altogether, five suspects
have been arrested thus far; Other than the woman, the rest are men from cities
across central Israel, from Taiba to Rehovot.
Dayan said some of them
completely denied the charges, while others said they did not know the girls
were underage, or that they did know but that the sex acts were
The 26-year-old woman at the center of the case faces charges
of luring minors to prostitution, but does not face any charges of pandering, as
she did not demand the girls hand over the money they made from their
When asked why she led the girls into prostitution if she was
not looking to make money off it, Dayan said police believe that she was
initially trying to do a favor for a young Arab man who then told his friends,
and that she continued to play the role of of middleman without making any
profit for herself.
Dayan said most of the girls were from poor families
living in disadvantaged neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv and other cities in the
southern Gush Dan region. At first the girls would be enticed into the trade
with gifts and cash, Dayan said, and the woman would then show them how to work
the job and turn over customers quickly.
He added that the girls charged
between NIS 200-400 per client, and that most made a few thousand shekels a
month from the trade.
On Monday, one of the girls, 18-year-old “Aleph,”
spoke of how she became part of the ring four years ago, when she was only a
14-year-old high school student.
Aleph, a tall, striking young woman,
said that she and a friend began hanging out with older men, and looking back
now she realizes they were both naive girls getting dragged into a world where
they did not belong.
I always had the mind of someone much older than
myself, Aleph explained, mentioning a previous boyfriend who was 36 years
Aleph said that one of her friends introduced her to the woman at
the center of the affair. The woman called her and the friend, Aleph said, and
had them accompany an Israeli-Arab man in his car to a rural area of lightly
forested sand dunes, where he offered them money to perform sexual acts. She
said she did not agree to do so, but later did become involved with a number of
Aleph’s story reads like that of an ignored teenage girl looking for
attention and affection from older men, not simply money.
She said she
was living with her father at the time and that one of the men was her father’s
age. He would spend time with her at her father’s house and even spend the night
there with her father’s knowledge – yet her father never got involved. She added
that her mother knew about the situation and asked her to stop, but never went
to the police.
Aleph said she came from a poor home, and that she was
really seeking what was missing at home.
“What I didn’t have at home I
got elsewhere,” Aleph said.
Her hands shaking, Aleph said she came to
speak about her experience on Monday in order to tell parents “to take this to
heart, to keep your eyes open and pay attention to your children. It’s very easy
for them to get to a very dark place and harder to get out of.”