Prostitute and police 390.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
In an unprecedented move, a Canadian parliamentarian has taken it upon herself
to encourage Knesset members to support recent legislation that would
criminalize prostitution in Israel, The Jerusalem Post has
Canadian MP Joy Smith, chairwoman of the Standing Committee on
Health, urged all 120 MKs in an email sent Friday to support a bill submitted
last month by MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Human
The bill, which will make paying for sex services a criminal
offense, received initial approval from the Ministerial Committee for
Legislation and passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum. It is
still waiting to be forwarded to one of the parliamentary committees for further
readings and adjustments before becoming law.
“Israel now has the
opportunity to pass progressive legislation and to be a leader in the fight
against this form of modern slavery,” Smith wrote in the email. “I urge you to
support MK Zuaretz’s bill and help make Israel a country that others aspire to
emulate. The world is watching and waiting for Israel to take this important
step and eliminate the demand to purchase sex.”
Smith, who led the fight
against human trafficking in Canada, said it is of great importance for a nation
“to address modern day slavery.”
She also highlighted that during a 2006
trip to Israel, she met with leaders in the fight against human trafficking, as
well as victims “whose lives had been shattered by rape and
“Israel has made various efforts to prevent human
trafficking, but without addressing demand, they are insufficient,” wrote Smith.
“In order to eradicate this shameless denigration and exploitation of human
beings, the demand for paid sex must be eliminated.
This remains a
significant problem in Israel as it does in Canada and the rest of the
She also pointed out to MKs that the link between sex trafficking
and the demand for paid sex is undeniable.
“The men who practice their
‘right’ to purchase sex, without any fear of legal consequence, fuel the
exploitation of others,” added Smith, highlighting that countries such as
Sweden, Norway and Iceland have already taken such measures to combat the sex
Zuaretz’s bill is based on a similar series of laws that were
first passed in Sweden in 1999 and are now known as the “Nordic model.” Most
Western countries have adopted some variation on this set of
Her attempts to pass the law have been backed by a political
lobbying campaign led by the Task Force For Human Trafficking (TFHT), a project
of NGO Atzum and the law firm Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar.
In addition to protests
worldwide to raise awareness to the issue, 119 volunteers were trained as
experts in the subject of human trafficking and assigned to each remaining MK to
encourage them to vote in favor of the bill.
Although there are no
official figures, it is estimated that there are currently more than 15,000
individuals working in the prostitution industry in Israel, 5,000 of whom are
minors. The state has been a destination country for more than 25,000 victims of
human trafficking since the 1990s.
TFHT research suggests that many of
Israel’s prostitutes and sex slaves are controlled by pimps and some experience
violence at the hands of their clients. The clients come from every ethnic,
religious and socioeconomic stratum.