Aliza Lavie (left) conducts a meeting of the Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, as MK Tamar Zandberg (right) looks on.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
For the sixth year in a row, Israel has been placed on the highest tier of countries working to end human trafficking and prostitution, according to a US State Department report on combating such activities in 2017.
Monday’s meeting of the Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and Prostitution was headed by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie and attended by Dina Dominitz, director of the Unit for Combating Trafficking in Persons in the Justice Ministry, representatives of the US Embassy, civil organizations involved in the field, Knesset MKs and others.
The meeting aimed to delve deeper into the issues raised in the report to generate practical solutions to improve the situation.
The content of the meeting proved that much work needs to be done to ensure the safety of current victims of human trafficking who live in Israel.
The meeting also addressed the rise in the phenomenon of women coming to Israel, mainly from Eastern Europe, to work in prostitution.
This rise began in 2014, when the requirement for obtaining a visa to enter Israel from Eastern European countries was canceled.
This year, 137 women from Ukraine have been arrested on suspicion of prostitution.
The meeting also addressed the report’s findings of a sharp increase in the number of women who work in prostitution among refugees from African countries.
According to Dr. Zoe Gotzeit, director of the Department of Immigrants and Stateless Persons: “About 5% of all asylum-seekers from Eritrea and Sudan reside in Israel [some 7,000]. Many of the women have suffered terrible abuse on their way to Israel with untreated trauma. In addition, many of the immigrants and migrant workers find it difficult to return the ransom money paid to them when they were kidnapped on their way to Israel. Therefore, this may also push them into engaging in prostitution.”
Committee chairwoman Aliza Lavie concluded on another issue: demanding a law be passed to punish those who hire prostitutes.
“We have to remember that the more time passes without a law that incriminates prostitution clients, the more we continue to legitimize this phenomenon,” she said.
“This law of incrimination must be passed by any means necessary so that by the next session we will have already completed the legislative process. This will convey a clear message that the consumption of prostitution is an unacceptable phenomenon with disastrous consequences and will also help reduce the demand that drives the industry,” Lavie concluded.