In the Knesset:
Since May 2014, TFHT has significantly increased our lobbying activities, having become a regular fixture in the halls of the Knesset; meeting three times weekly with MKs and Government Ministers; trying to secure individual, party and coalition support. The process is lengthy, fraught with distracting, shifting, (and should be irrelevant) politics, and given to dealing with some substantive objections. Those often center around the inadequacy of rehabilitative budgets and frameworks for women forced out of prostitution. Some supporters are inclined to negotiate the best scenario possible at this juncture such as that suggested by the bill supported by MK Zahava Gal-On, the former chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee on the Trafficking of Women. Her version of the bill would deter both entrance into prostitution and potential buyers of sexual services and is at a fairly advanced stage in the legislative process.
The Knesset is based on a parliamentary system with 120 members. ATZUM’s Project 119 campaign brings the public into the battle for the majority required to pass Nordic Model legislation. This weekly email campaign pairs volunteer activists with MKs and Government Ministers. Presently, 550 volunteers from Israel, the US, Europe and Australia send weekly emails to individually assigned MKs and Government Ministers urging them to pass legislation. The campaign was cited by former MK Orit Zuaretz as “…the crucial effort in bringing the Knesset and Government to give priority to anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution concerns and laying the foundation for future legislative initiatives.” We have recently moved the campaign into higher gear and will soon activate a new online system which will enable volunteers, with just a few clicks, to contact all 120 MKs, either thanking them for taking up official support of the legislation or urging them to do so. The potential to so significantly extend our reach will help demonstrate the public’s stance on the issue and international demand for action.
TFHT, a member of the Knesset Inter-Office Parliamentary Committee against Human Trafficking, has intensified collaboration with other NGOs, such as the Levinsky Clinic (run in partnership with the Ministry of Health); Saleet women’s shelter for prostituted women; Isha l’Isha, which provides emotional and material support to victims of trafficking and prostitution; Turning the Tables, dedicated to vocational training and economic empowerment of women who leave prostitution; Ofek Nashi, a rehabilitation hostel for women in prostitution; and Machon Toda’a, which aims to raise awareness regarding the issues of prostitution, trafficking in women for the sex industry, pornography and commercial sexual exploitation. We are also working with academics, lawmakers, and activists in Europe, primarily Nordic and EU countries, as we prepare to identify modifications to the Nordic model for drafting legislation for Israel.