Prostitute hooker street walker 390 (R).
(photo credit: Edgard Garrido / Reuters)
Nearly half the women residing in an emergency shelter for streetwalkers are
immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Naama Rivlin, director of Saleet, an
organization that assists prostitutes, told a Knesset committee on
Rivlin presented the facts during a discussion in the Committee
for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs and the Subcommittee on
Trafficking in Women and Prostitution.
The lawmakers convened to discuss
the link between difficulties in the absorption process of immigrants and their
downward spiral into prostitution.
According to Rivlin, Saleet’s Tel
Aviv-based shelter cares for some 400 women every year.
apartment, located in the central bus station, draws in women working in the
toughest form of prostitution, who also usually use drugs.
About 50% of
the women living in the apartment are Russian- speaking; while 30% of the women
in the rehabilitation and therapy track are Russian
Furthermore, Rivlin stated that around 95% of all the women
that Saleet treats – including the new immigrants – have experienced some form
of sexual assault in their youth. “There isn’t a single girl among those who
came to us for treatment who was not a victim of gang rape in her country of
The immigration crisis, coupled with difficulty in earning a
living, serves as a breaking point for already weakened women, including mothers
with children, and makes prostitution a viable lifestyle, explained
Noga Shiluch, director of a patrol for minimizing the damage of
prostitution, concurred with Rivlin’s estimate. He said that 49% of the women
encountered by the patrol car were prostitutes from the former Soviet
“Our feeling is that the crisis is not so much about the
absorption centers, but rather the financial obligations that come later. Some
of them go into prostitution because of financial burdens accrued. Immigrant
women often do not succeed during the absorption period in taking advantage of
the social services, and when they want to, they discover it is too late,” said
Rita Haikin, from the Isha L’Isha (Woman to Woman) organization,
added, “It is not enough to bring Jews to the State of Israel to improve our
demographics. W also need to take care of them and help them deal with life in
The discussion brought forth sharp criticism against the
government, immigrant absorption centers, the Jewish Agency, and specifically
programs which bring Jewish youth to Israel.
Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid),
chairman of the committee for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs,
concluded that more emotional support should be provided during the absorption
process and in clarifying the social rights of young immigrants. Razbozov said
the committee would look into the absorption centers and the programs, like
MASA, which bring Jewish youth to Israel, with regard to the absorption
conditions and the economic and psychological assistance given to new