07 Mar

Standing with the victims of prostitution on International Women’s Day

March 8th, we will celebrate International Women’s Day. The day will also be marked in the Knesset plenum and at the sittings of committees considering legislation affecting women’s status. Among those bills is one authored by TFHT addressing prostitution, a degrading social phenomenon assaulting many walks of Israeli life.

This week we asked Project 119 to email the Minister of Social Equality, Gila Gamliel, to bring to her attention the state of prostituted women and call upon her to support the Nordic Model bill.

יום האישה

The letter that was sent to the Minister of Social Equality:

Dear Minister of Social Equality, Gila Gamliel,

First, I congratulate you for assuming the critically important position of Minister of Social Equality. Social equality, and gender equality as integral part of it, did not previously receive adequate recognition. Your assumption of this Ministry’s efforts offers a heretofore unrealized opportunity to see Israel make great progress in improving the lives of some its most vulnerable citizens and women.

This Wednesday we will mark International Women’s Day in the Knesset, a significant occasion to discuss issues of gender inequality and imbalance of power. One of the most oppressive, violent expressions of this inequity is the swamp of prostitution. Prostitution preserves the power of control of one person over another’s body, and in many cases the enslavement of women. Prostituted women constitute 95% of prostituted people in Israel, most victims of sexual assault and/or incest in their childhood forced every day to endure humiliation, violence and abuse by johns and pimps, with no viable way out of this vicious circle to rehabilitation.

The Ministry of Social Affairs National Survey on Prostitution reveals there are more than 10,000 prostituted persons in Israel who daily suffer violence, coercion and  psychological assault. The vast majority have entered prostitution because of financial need and nearly all would leave prostitution if they had the support to do so.

We can and should eliminate prostitution, and you hold the power to help do so! The Nordic Model of criminalization of consuming prostitution and rehabilitating prostituted persons, now adopted by several countries including Sweden, Canada, Latvia, Norway, France and Ireland, has proven that by criminalizing the johns and rehabilitating the victims, the number of prostituted people decreased by as much as 60%.

Minister Gamliel, the public also supports this change. The National Survey shows 74% of Israelis expect the Government to eliminate prostitution in Israel.

It is time to adopt the Nordic Model in Israel! The bill will soon be submitted to a vote in the Ministerial Committee and the Knesset. Your public support as Minister of Social Equality for this bill is crucial. We ask you be the voice for prostituted women and men in the Knesset this Wednesday and every day and support legislation which will bring an end to their suffering and prevent thousands of our young women and girls from entering a world of abuse.”

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