'59% oppose bill to punish prostitution clients'

Poll finds that most Israelis against criminal penalties for those paying for sexual services; half think such a law would be ineffective.

Prostitute and police 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Prostitute and police 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
A majority of Israelis oppose proposed legislation which would make paying for sexual services a criminal offense punishable with a prison sentence or community service, according to a Dahaf Institute poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel released on Wednesday.
While only 34 percent of respondents said they supported the bill, which passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum last week, 59 percent answered that they oppose the proposed legislation.
The bill was proposed by MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women, and is supported by many Knesset members from across the political spectrum.
It will impose a sentence of six-months in jail or community service on any person who utilizes the services of a prostitute or pays for any other related sexual services.
Respondents to the survey were split on the bill's effectiveness in decreasing prostitution. Half of those polled believe that if the bill were passed into law, men would continue to frequent prostitutes at the same rate, whereas 42 percent of respondents thought that the law would cause a decrease in the number of visits men make to prostitutes.
Estimates suggest that roughly 10,000 men each month visit one of the hundreds of discreet apartments or brothels throughout the country. Of those, around 25-35 percent are from the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community; 25-35% are Arab; 8-10% are foreign workers and the rest are from mainstream Israeli society.
After passing the preliminary reading last week, the bill will be forwarded to one of the parliamentary committees for further review and adjustments before becoming law.
Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.