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):

The TFHT authored bill, 14 years in the making, was submitted by MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) and Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) after an intensive process which involving government ministers, MKs and specially appointed Knesset committees. Its initial passage and broad cross-party support reflects a shift in political will more closely aligned with public demand that the consumption of prostitution in Israel be criminalized and the prostituted person protected. While there is still much to be done to assure this legislation pass two more requisite Knesset votes, this is truly a landmark achievement.

Israel’s Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, has declared her intention to submit the legislation as a government-sponsored bill, something we lobbied hard to achieve. Though the bill will still require further readings, a nearly assured, simple majority of MKs present and voting will suffice given the Minister’s endorsement.

There is no doubt the final push on the part of our contributors, supporters, volunteers and other friends, who issued constant and last minute appeals to government Ministers and Members of Knesset, helped turn the tide on this momentous day.

(MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Zehava Gal-On with TFHT staff  and others after the vote)
Knesset Discussion on other TFHT Bills to eliminate prostitution

TFHT’s collaboration with other lawmakers across the political divide on related legislation is also coming to fruition.

One such bill will enable law enforcement to disconnect the phone lines of those advertising sex for sale via the omnipresent “business” cards which litter Israel’s streets. These cards, displaying photos of seemingly sexually eager young women, are collected by small children and are currently considered legitimate “marketing” tools. The bill, drafted by TFHT at the request of MK Merav Michaeli, Chair of the Caucus for Female Knesset Members, was adopted by Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan as a government-sponsored bill, thus suggesting swift passage. The bill will make it illegal for pimps and other sex brokers to continue to sell their “product” as they’ve done until now.

We have also pushed hard for the adoption of another bill initially submitted to the Knesset by the office of the Deputy Attorney General which calls for the closure of virtual spaces (adult sex websites, apps, and cellular groups) where prostitution is negotiated and prostituted people are recruited. This TFHT-authored bill has already passed its third reading; has been published in the Official Gazette; and will soon become law in the State of Israel. Once this happens, Israel’s law enforcement will have the tools to shut down virtual spaces were women are bought and sold as commodities.

No Rest for the Caring and Concerned
These successes aside, we must continue the push to demand legislative change leading to a more just society. What can you do?

  • Get a friend to become a Project 119 online activist. Click
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to help sustain our work.
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Save the Date: Please join us on August 10 in Tel-Aviv for the third annual public memorial ceremony for Jessica (zikhrona livrakha), a woman who committed suicide in the brothel where she lived, worked, and was abused daily for 15 years. The ceremony will also pay tribute to the other 58 victims of prostitution in Israel who have died in the last decade.

We are proud to note these substantial achievements gained because of the support and determination of our donors and volunteers, who join us insisting a just Israel must not tolerate the exploitation of another. Together we will further advance this essential change!