09 Jun

One brothel closed, what about the rest?

On May 30th, Judge Itai Hermelin of the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court ruled that the brothel at 36 Yitzhak Sadeh Street must be closed for 90 days. At the same time, the judge stated that in the future brothels run by women – as opposed to men – should not be targeted.

The Yitzhak Sadeh brothel is a well-known and especially large operation and we welcome its closing as a part of a trend of greater law enforcement against commercial sex establishments in Tel Aviv and the rest of the country. However, we must also recognize that the ruling exposes the failure of our current laws to provide a comprehensive solution to prostitution in Israel. By concentrating only on related offenses (such as pimping and owning a brothel), our laws attempt to tackle the issue without addressing the two main players – the women trapped in the cycle of prostitution and the customers who continue to fuel the demand for the “industry.”

The ruling puts Israel on a dangerous path towards legalization by providing the conditions under which the operation of a brothel may be legal. Allowing women to operate brothels does not empower or improve the conditions of women in prostitution. It only helps further entrench in our society the acceptability of purchasing sexual services and ensures institutional support for the exploitation of women in the sex industry. Furthermore, it supplies pimps and human traffickers with the know-how to mask their operations as legitimate businesses – for example, by instructing the prostituted women to claim ownership of and support for the business when questioned by police.

We must stop this dangerous trend toward legalization of prostitution in Israel. The time has come for Israel to reform its prostitution laws and adopt the Nordic Model. We call on the Israeli Knesset members to join the Coalition Against Prostitution’s demand to criminalize the purchase of sexual services and provide aid to those trapped in prostitution.

פילוח זירות זנות בישראל

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07 Mar

Int’l Women’s Day and Prostitution

This week we will celebrate International Women’s Day. Though it has been over one-hundred years since the founding of this Day, we have yet to achieve true equality in our society and have yet to eradicate the exploitation of women in prostitution.

When speaking about prostitution, we generally discuss the destructive influence it has on women trapped in the cycle of the trade. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we would like to address the link between prostitution and other issues of gender equality: equal pay for men and women; equal representation in the government, the judicial system and in core decision-making posts; sexual violence; and violence against women in the home and in public spaces.

Prostitution is a form of violence against women, situated at the furthest point on the continuum of gender inequality. It engenders a situation in which a woman’s body is commoditized even as the woman herself becomes invisible. Prostitution is thus the point where we cease to see women as people and perceive them as objects, vessels, bodies for sale.

For this reason, there is a close relationship between the status of every woman in our society and the phenomenon of prostitution. In the same way, as long as slavery remained legal in most of world no man or woman was truly free, so too as long as it is acceptable to use women for the purpose of prostitution, no one among us is truly free.

Therefore, on this International Women’s Day, we call all Knesset Members of Israel to act to eliminate prostitution from the world in the only proven, effective way – adoption of the Nordic Model which criminalizes the purchase of prostituted services, while assisting women to escape the cycle of prostitution. Only in this way will we be able to pave the way for a new generation of children with equal respect for women and men who understand no one is allowed to misuse or abuse their bodies.

It is 2016, time that the State of Israel pass the National Struggle Against Prostitution Bill prohibiting the purchase of sexual services and providing aid to prostitution survivors.