09 Nov

Permanently revoking the Pussycat Club’s license

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Dear Project 119 Participants and TFHT Friends,
We finally succeeded in permanently revoking the Pussycat Club’s license. 

At the end of 2016, ATZUM’s and KNKB ‘s Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution submitted an administrative petition against the Tel-Aviv Municipality and the Israel Police, demanding revocation of the business license of the Pussycat Club, a brothel masquerading as a legal strip club. In response, the Tel-Aviv Municipality revoked the license.

Three months ago, it came to the attention of TFHT that immediately after revoking the license, the municipality began the process of renewing the Club’s business license.

After a prolonged effort, and after the police declared serious crimes were taking place at the Club, this past week the new license was denied in perpetuity. What remains is for the municipality to officially close the club. (See related article in Hebrew.)

The Pussycat Club, located in Tel-Aviv’s Atarim Square, is one of the largest strip clubs in Israel. The Club acts as a gateway into the world of prostitution for Israeli women and young girls recruited as dancers, but instead exploited and prostituted daily.

Exposing strip clubs for the cover for brothels they are and successfully shutting down the Pussycat, by drawing attention to the egregious crimes taking place within, are significant steps to end the prostitution industry. Below we share other important milestones that have led us to this moment:

  • Minster of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, seeks to expand the definition of prostitution: As a result of TFHT’s petition against the Pussycat Club, the Attorney General began exploring the exploitation occurring during a “lap dance” that allows customers to touch the dancer inappropriately in exchange for money. Two months ago, Gilad Erdan turned to the State Attorney and the Minister of Justice requesting they recognize the “lap dance” as an act of illegal prostitution.
  • A precedent setting decision from the Tel-Aviv District Court declares, “Objectification of women should not be entertainment.” The ruling determined that the Ramat-Gan Municipality acted lawfully when it decided to discontinue the practice of granting business licenses to strip clubs in Israel’s Stock Exchange complex. The court ruled that strip shows were not entertainment but rather degradation and humiliation of women. (Link to a related interview with the Co Director of TFHT, Adv. Nitzan Kahana in Hebrew.)
  • The media as active participants in the conversation: Before Sukkot, in acover story, journalist Dana Spector wrote,

“Once I believed every woman had a right to work as a sex worker; that it was her right to work as a stripper if that is what she wanted; that she could make a lot of money that way, because for her it was less awful than working a 12-hour shift as a waitress at a stingy coffee chain. But, tonight, not anymore. Tonight, I do not believe that anymore. I think that after what I have seen, I will never be able to believe that again.”

These steps acknowledge the progress we are making, but the road to eradicate the consumption of prostitution in Tel-Aviv and the rest of Israel remains long. We must demand the Tel-Aviv Municipality act immediately to physically close the currently unlicensed Pussycat Club along with many other strip clubs which are covers for illegal brothels and examine more closely, or deny, license requests to open strip clubs.

This week, we ask that you write to Tel Aviv’s Mayor and to the Chair of Gender Equality in the Municipality, asking they take action.
We thank you for your action and support!
The Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution
project119.tfht@gmail.com
TFHT is a joint initiative of ATZUM-Justice Works and Kabiri Nevo Keidar-Blum & Co.

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26 Sep

Shana Tovah from TFHT

There is always something to be thankful for.

Dear Friends of the Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution,

Over the past year, the Task Force took major steps forward in our struggle for a more just and equal society – and the fruit of our efforts is finally showing.

This was a year of societal awakening – for the Knesset and the courts to begin addressing the exploitation, the anguish and injury that occur to those forced to work in prostitution. Tens of news articles were published about the work of the Task Force. On the eve of Rosh HaShana, the public’s commitment to finally putting an end to the destructive cycle of prostitution is stronger than ever!

This was a year in which the proposed Criminal Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services and Community Treatment bill passed the Knesset’s preliminary hearing, and the government recognized the need to take responsibility for the 12,040 prostituted women in Israel today.

This was a year which included other significant progress moving us forward, step-by-step:

  • Proposed legislation to cut off phone numbers published on “business cards” advertising sexual services passed its first reading.
  • The bill to restrict access to websites that advertise prostitution was approved by the Knesset and became law.
  • Following a petition submitted by the Task Force, the business license of central Tel-Aviv’s strip club, the “Pussycat”, a front for a brothel, was revoked!
  • The proposed legislation which forbids soliciting for prostitution through advertisements has been brought before the Knesset.

With 74 Knesset members voting support for the Criminal Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services and Community Treatment bill, and none opposing; together with the announcement from the Minister of Justice that the bill will be brought forward by the government, this coming year looks like the year for which we have long been waiting for.

May this year be a year of Tikun.
May this be the year in which the State of Israel explicitly says “No” to the consumption of prostitution services.
May this be the year in which the State of Israel establishes a rehabilitation system for women leaving prostitution!
May this be the year in which every prostituted woman knows she is not invisible and has the possibility of another life.

With many thanks and blessings for a Good, Sweet New Year,
The Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution

Click here to read our full newsletter.

17 Sep

Stripping ‘sex entertainment’ down to its bare, ugly bones

(This article is taken from Haaretz website.  Click here to read it fully)

Written by Vered Lee

“The precedent-setting ruling issued Monday by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon Gonen that shut down a strip club in Ramat Gan puts an end to the whitewashing of prostitution and strip clubs, and aims to remove the camouflage and expose the hellish reality that’s existed in the heart of the city’s Diamond Exchange district for over 20 years.”

Continue reading Stripping ‘sex entertainment’ down to its bare, ugly bones.

12 Sep

It’s been two years. Remembering Jessica and the victims of prostitution

It has been two years since Jessica’s suicide, a woman who has been living in a brothel for the past fifteen years and exploited daily by tens of prostitution consumers. Last Thursday, August 10th 2017, we gathered for a march and a memorial ceremony held for the honor of Jessica and other 58 prostitution victims in Israel.

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We invite you to watch and share this related brief video:

13 Aug

Moving Israel to the forefront of women’s rights

(This article is taken from The Time of Israel website. Click Here to read it on the site)

Written by MK Aliza Lavie

Last month saw a historic success in the fight against prostitution in Israel: the Knesset gave unanimous preliminary approval for a bill incriminating the clients of prostitution and providing rehabilitation services to survivors of prostitution. It was a bill I submitted along with colleagues from across party lines in the Knesset, which is intended to ensure Israel joins a united front of advanced countries, who have made clear that the sale of women’s bodies as sexual merchandise is unacceptable and carries devastating consequences for women, men, children, and society as a whole.

Aliza LavieContinue Reading Moving Israel to the forefront of women’s rights

06 Aug

Sex education at Machane Yehuda market

(Click here to read the article on “Times of Israel”)

During the peak lunch hour in the middle of Jerusalem, at the Machane Yehuda shuk today, the arrival of a new food truck caused quite a bit of rukus. Calls to “come get your meat” on a loudspeaker, and girls passing out small sandwich bags, brought about large crowds expecting to get a free taste.

Meet the Meat was a typical looking roadside food truck, with a large kosher sign.  The difference was that rather than selecting your cut of meat from the cow diagram, there was an image of the female body. Each portion of the female body was labeled and numbered. The menu consists of sexually descriptive names of the female anatomy.Continue Reading Sex education at Machane Yehuda market

31 Jul

Thanks to you, we achieved so much last week

With your help, last week marked significant success in the fight to eradicate trafficking and prostitution in Israel! There is much to report, please read on.

Our New Favorite Number: 74
On July 16, TFHT’s Criminal Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services and Community Treatment Bill, based on internationally recognized Nordic Model legislation, passed a preliminary vote in Israel’s Knesset with 74 Members of Knesset (MKs) voting approval. Notably, there were no abstentions or nay votes.

Watch the discussions and voting from the Knesset session (with English subtitles):

Continue Reading Thanks to you, we achieved so much last week

24 Jul

TFHT’s bill approved by the Ministers Committee

A Historic Step Towards Changing the Face of Israel Society!

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposed Criminal Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services and Community Treatment Bill, 2017, drafted by the Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution and by MKs Shuli Mualem-Refaeli and Zehava Gal-On. The Committee also voted support for parallel measures submitted by MKs Dr. Aliza Lavie (Chair of the Sub-Committee on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution), Aida Toma-Suleiman, and Merav Ben-Ari (Chair of the Committee on Advancing Women’s Status).

Continue Reading TFHT’s bill approved by the Ministers Committee

12 Jul

This Sunday TFHT’s bill will reach the Ministers Committee, it’s time for pressure!

Sunday, July 16, a bill initiated and shaped by TFHT and  promoted by MKs Shuli Mualem-Refaeli and Zahava Galon, will be submitted to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The bill seeks to criminalize the purchase of prostitution and provide rehabilitation for prostituted persons.

In preparation for this ministerial decision, the first and critical step toward passage in the Knesset’s current session, we seek to mobilize all possible support to ensure that the proposal will be passed. Therefore, we ask you now to email the members of the Ministerial Committee of Legislation, urging their support of this bill  to abolish prostitution in Israel.

Please forward this letter to friends, relatives and community leaders so that they might also help. This Sunday is the time to demand Israel’s decision-makers fulfill the will of the public and act without delay to prohibit the consumption of prostitution and rehabilitate victims of prostitution in Israel.
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Continue Reading This Sunday TFHT’s bill will reach the Ministers Committee, it’s time for pressure!

06 Jul

Even if we ignore it, prostitution exists, and this is how it sounds

One of the least discussed issues regarding prostitution is the role of the consumer, the client (or john) who drives the entire “industry”, creating demand for prostitution.

Prostituted people report that johns come from diverse socioeconomic and religious backgrounds.  Most are in committed relationships, or married, with families.The recently published National Survey on Prostitution in Israel conducted by the Ministries of Social Affairs and Public Security revealed that men purchase sex one million times each year, paying over one and one-quarter billionIsrael shekels for such services.

Disappointingly, however, the survey contained only limited research into the primary driving factor – consumption. It is unfortunate that government authorities have yet to acknowledge the critical role of clients in the enduring phenomenon of enslaving others in prostitution.

It is time for Israel society to raise the curtain on those who purchase prostitution, to bring to attention their responsibility in perpetrating the systematized violent exploitation of thousands of people, the majority girls and women. We must call out the client, who, together with pimps and traffickers, sustains the vicious cycle of prostitution.

Continue Reading Even if we ignore it, prostitution exists, and this is how it sounds