sex slaves human trafficking 248 88.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) would like to see Israel’s name come up more frequently
in United Nations debates, but not on security related issues.
said Monday that she plans to raise the trafficking of women as the first topic
in a series of discussions initiated by Israel in the world body. She was part
of a Knesset delegation to the US earlier this month during which she discussed
Israeli advances in the war against human trafficking with top UN and State
Zuaretz, who chairs the Knesset Subcommittee
Against Trafficking in Women, said she briefed both Diane Kelly, senior policy
adviser in the Secretary of State’s Office for Global Women’s Issues, and Robert
Orr, assistant secretary-general for policy planning in the Executive Office of
the UN Secretary- General, on the need for a shelter for trafficking victims
from Africa who are also refugees.
“After visiting the Saharonim facility
at Kitziot Detention Center, it was evident that there is no unit that deals
with African victims of trafficking and sexual violence,” Zuaretz complained.
“Our current programs are mainly focused on trafficked women from Eastern
Europe, and less so from the Far East, and when I realized this, I initiated a
program to deal with refugee victims of trafficking.”
According to the
MK, Orr told her that there was a UN global project on the subject of
trafficking and that he would appreciate more information on Israel’s
His interest in Israel’s efforts, she said, helped her
understand the potential for Israel to become more active within the
“I plan to hold a hearing at the UN initiated by Israel on
trafficking in women. Orr said that Israel was almost always mentioned in the UN
in connection with diplomatic and security issues, while we were not involved in
social issues such as the environment and human trafficking,” Zuaretz
“He told us that when we use the platform of the UN to pursue
other issues, it will also help to change the perceptions of Israel,” she said.
“Currently, the platform is only partially used, and unfortunately in most
cases, Israel is on the front lines with the arrows pointed against
Zuaretz said she planned to remain in contact with Orr, as well with
Israel’s incoming ambassador to the United Nations, in order to initiate such a
“After all,” she said, “we really do have accomplishments to
Despite having taken numerous steps against the influx of
trafficked women, Israel still holds a problematic “two” grade on the US State
Department’s list of countries in which women are trafficked. The grade
indicates is that Israel isn’t taking sufficient steps to prevent the phenomenon
and provide assistance to its victims.
“Despite taking numerous steps in
the last year to combat the phenomenon, we have remained at the same status,”
“The Justice and Foreign ministries’ representatives in
Washington were surprised to see that we remained at the same
She explained that this may have been due to the transition of
the Immigration Police to its standing as the Immigration Authority under the
auspices of the Interior Ministry.
“Although we in practice expanded our
training and awareness programs throughout numerous governmental offices, actual
enforcement may have fallen between the cracks with the transfer of authority,”
During her subcommittee’s final meeting before the Knesset’s
summer recess, Zuaretz and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel
Beiteinu) discussed the possibility of sending an official Israeli delegation to
the State Department with the task of briefing US officials on steps taken by
Israel to reduce the trafficking in women.
Zuaretz participated in the
State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program after being selected
by the US Embassy in Israel on the basis of her cooperation with American
authorities on women trafficking. She was joined by MKs Uri Orbach (Habayit
Hayehudi), Hamed Amer (Israel Beiteinu) and Yariv Levin (Likud).
course of the visit, the Israeli parliamentarians heard lectures on American
government and administration, met with prominent members of Congress and the
State Department, visited UN headquarters in New York, and studied local
government and activism in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
participation in the delegation brought me to the conclusion that we should work
to strengthen our informal relationships with international policymakers and to
frequently update them as to what is happening in Israel,” Zuaretz
“MKs can help function as spokespeople for Israel and for the
Knesset. People sit overseas and get information from the media, and while it is
very easy and more photogenic to be a victim and helpless, it is very hard to
represent the side that defends itself. And thus we MKs have a responsibility to
help show our overseas counterparts a picture of Israeli civil society.”