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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