Prostitute hooker street walker 390 (R).
(photo credit: Edgard Garrido / Reuters)
A series of worldwide protests Sunday, including in Israel, will aim to put
pressure on Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and other lawmakers to support an
upcoming bill that seeks to criminalize the purchase of sexual services in
Known as the “Nordic model,” after a similar series of laws were
first passed in Sweden in 1999, the legislation in Israel is being proposed by
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), chairperson of the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking
If approved, it will become a criminal offense for any person
to pay for prostitutes or any other type of sexual service.
also hope that it will cause significant damage to Israel’s multi-million dollar
sex industry and help to reduce the high levels of human trafficking and sexual
“Simply put, prostitution is a form of modern slavery and must
be eradicated – not just in Israel but throughout the world. The time has come
for our society to stop tolerating the purchase of sexual services,” stated
Rabbi Levi Lauer, founding executive director of ATZUM, whose Task Force on
Human Trafficking (TFHT) is one of the human rights groups actively lobbying to
raise support for this legislation.
“There must be real consequences in
place for those who purchase sex to the great detriment of women, children and
Israeli society as a whole,” continued Lauer.
Sunday’s protests, which
will take place opposite Israeli consulates and embassies in London, New York,
Washington, and outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, are likely to attract broad
support from Jewish student groups and other activists involved worldwide in
fighting the sex slave trade, said Kayla Zecher, projects coordinator for the
TFHT and the organizer of the international demonstrations.
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that the protests are an extension of TFHT’s Project 119, a campaign launched
recently together with law firm Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar, that has assigned trained
volunteers to each of the remaining 119 Knesset members (Zuaretz not included)
to provide them with information about the phenomenon and encourage them to vote
in favor of the bill.
Zuaretz’s legislation, which already has support
from numerous MKs from across the political spectrum, is based on laws that have
been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and most recently in France. The model
works on the principle that in order to effectively combat sex trafficking and
prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.
legislation is expected to come up for a vote in the Ministerial Committee for
Legislation on February 12. While most women’s groups and human rights activists
are clear that this legislation is the only answer to combating sexual slavery,
representatives of the Justice Ministry until now have been hesitant to support
making the consumption of prostitution services a criminal offense.
recent interview with The Jerusalem Post
, the country’s national coordinator for
human trafficking, lawyer Rachel Gershuni, said that in order for such a law to
be effective it needed to be enacted together with changes to the rehabilitation
services provided to help women who would lose their source of income, and
include significant work to change public attitudes towards the sex
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. Israel has been a destination
country for more than 25,000 victims of human trafficking since the
Research undertaken by TFHT 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 segment of
society and every ethnic, religious and socioeconomic stratum.
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