Knesset approves NIS 90 million for rehabilitation of sex workers

The Knesset's move follows the passage in December of a law criminalizing the hiring of sex workers.

January 13, 2019 13:18
1 minute read.
A prostitute in Israel waiting for a client.

A prostitute in Israel waiting for a client. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Knesset on Sunday approved a NIS 90 million program aimed at the rehabilitation of former sex workers and their reintegration into the labor market, according to a press release.

The move follows the passage in December of a law criminalizing the hiring of sex workers. Israel was the 10th country to pass such a law.

“The fight to reduce the demand for paid sex must be integrated with an effective rehabilitation program,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said praising the decision.

“Prostitution is not a career,” said MK Shuli Moallem-Refaeli, one of the initiators of the law. “It is a terrible circumstance of need and abuse, and anyone trapped in prostitution is there because of tragic circumstances.”

The program will include establishing emergency housing for former sex workers, temporary housing and rehabilitation hostels for minor sex workers, and a special rehabilitation program for mothers. A hostel will also be established for the transgender community. The government will also work with the National Insurance Institute to examine providing special monthly stipends for former sex workers.

Current services and programs, including clinics for former sex workers, sex education, and special training to help pedagogues identify at-risk youth, will be expanded.

The funds would be allocated over the next three years.

There are currently 14,000 people involved in sex work in Israel, including 3,000 minors, according to the Welfare Ministry, and 76% would leave sex work if they could. The average lifespan of a prostitute in Israel is 46 years.

Knesset Subcommittee to Combat Trafficking of Women and Prostitution head, Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), said after the law’s passage that it includes “budgets for rehabilitation, accompanying research, and help in finding employment are inseparable parts of implementing the law. With every day that passes [without the new law], more women are hurt.”

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