02 Feb

Preventing the next victim of prostitution

Two prostituted women, M’ who was 21 and N’, 46, have tragically died last month. Both were known to the welfare authorities for their repeated attempts to exit the circle of prostitution. They now join a too long list of 51 prostituted women in Israel who died in the past decade – and of these there is public record, there undoubtedly being many more. May their souls rest in peace. Click here to read the article published in Haaretz about M’.

For those trapped in prostitution, every day that passes without significant, progressive, legal and social change is critical. Last year, an inter-ministerial committee was established by the Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, to examine possible Government sponsorship of the “Nordic Model” bill written by TFHT.

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15 Dec

It’s about time to close the Pussycat Club

TFHT repeatedly confronted the Tel-Aviv Municipality and Israeli Police about the Pussycat Club, a strip club notorious for running a brothel in its back rooms undisturbed by any local authority. Finally, the police raided the Club, founding evidence of sexual services solicited, and ordered the destruction of its “private” rooms.

Subsequently, last week TFHT filed an administrative appeal against the Tel-Aviv Municipality and its Mayor, Ron Huldai, asking the court to cancel it’s license and close the Club.

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Continue Reading It’s about time to close the Pussycat Club

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

26 Apr

NGO Report: Israel Fails to Crack Down on Human Trafficking

Government agencies aren’t cooperating enough and more sex workers are arriving from Eastern Europe than before, the report by Hotline for Refugees and Migrants says

Ilan Lior  Apr 26, 2016, HA’ARETZ

Human rights organizations are identifying far more victims of human trafficking than the state, a rights group says in a new report. According to the report, prepared by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, about 80 percent of trafficking victims from the asylum-seeker community were identified last year by human rights organizations rather than state agencies. The Hotline itself identified 28 African asylum seekers as trafficking victims who had suffered torture in the Sinai Peninsula en route to Israel. At the organization’s urging, the state recognized 19 of them as trafficking victims, and four were released from Saharonim Prison.

The report adds that last year saw a rise in the number of women who came to Israel on tourist visas from Eastern Europe and were put to work in the sex industry. It says 11 such women, after being arrested on suspicion of engaging in prostitution, were deported by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority without any coordination with the police or examination of the circumstances that brought them to Israel. Even though the administrative tribunals that deal with such cases have harshly criticized this lack of coordination, there have been no signs of any improvement, the report says.

Over the past decade, Israel worked hard to improve its handling of human trafficking in order to earn a Tier-1 ranking on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, Hotline says. And as long as Israel was trying to improve its ranking, state agencies were careful to coordinate in an effort to end human trafficking. But in recent years, cooperation between the population authority and the police has deteriorated, the report says.
As a result, women arrested for prostitution are sometimes deported even before police have questioned them to find out whether they were trafficking victims, making it impossible for the police to find the traffickers.

Continue Reading NGO Report: Israel Fails to Crack Down on Human Trafficking

17 Apr

THFT Director Michal Leibel in the Knesset

Michal_Leibel_pic-237x300Every day, THFT Director Michal Leibel can be found in the halls of the Knesset and offices of government ministers and MKs in an effort to secure cross-party support of TFHT authored Nordic Model legislation. Last August, she added one more task to her already busy agenda.

For four months Michal made a weekly four-hour round-trip bus ride between Jerusalem and Haifa to facilitate an unusual discussion group in collaboration with Ofek Nashi (Women’s Horizons), a program that provides support and shelter for women who have left, or are in the process of escaping prostitution. An initiative of the Municipality of Haifa and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, Ofek Nashi seeks to rebuild the lives of women who, as a result of being prostituted, have suffered substance abuse; mental, sexual, and physical violence; and family, health and legal problems. Over the course of one year, participants receive individual counseling, take part in group therapy, undergo job training, and meet women leaders in an effort to prepare themselves for independent life off the streets.

Continue Reading THFT Director Michal Leibel in the Knesset

13 Apr

It’s Israel’s Turn to Adopt the Nordic Model

On April 6, the French Parliament voted 64 to 12 to pass the Nordic Model to criminalize the purchase of sexual services, while offering aid and rehabilitation programs to victims of prostitution. According to the new French law, offenders will face a fine of €1,500 for a first offense and €3,750 for repeated offenses and will also be required to attend classes on the dangerous effects of prostitution. In passing this legislation, France joined Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Canada in proving its commitment to human rights and gender equality.

Countries that have adopted the Nordic Model have seen a considerable reduction in prostitution. In contrast, attempts to criminalize the sale of sexual services and/or legalize prostitution have proven ineffective. Only by eliminating the demand for such services can we limit and eradicate this phenomenon, sending a clear message that Israeli society is unwilling to tolerate the purchase of women, men and children’s bodies for sexual services.

According to a recent survey on prostitution in Israel, two thirds of women report turning to prostitution out of financial desperation, and 76% express desire to break out of the cycle of prostitution. The time has come for Israel to demonstrate its own commitment to justice. We call on Knesset Members of Israel to support legislation to criminalize the purchase of sexual services while providing support for those in prostitution.

Frace

01 Apr

Prostitution and Brothels – how legal are they across the world?

By Asa Bennet, The Telegraph, 01/06/2016

From today, paying for sex becomes illegal in Northern Ireland, following the examples of Norway and Sweden in criminalising the clients of sex workers.  Many believe the move will prompt similar laws in the rest of the UK, despite strong opposition from those who argue that legalisation would be the best protection for those involved.

Continue Reading Prostitution and Brothels – how legal are they across the world?

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.

15 Feb

UK’s First “Red-Light” District: Leeds Cruel Solution to Prostitution and Violence

By Taina Bien-Aimé, The Huffington Post, 08/02/2016

On an ordinary winter day in 2014, Mary Honeyball led her colleagues in the European Parliament to pass a groundbreaking resolution urging member states to examine their policies on sexual exploitation, prostitution and its impact on gender equality. The purpose, the report describes in detail, is to tackle sex trafficking and its end goal, the sex trade, by targeting those who purchase sexual acts while solely decriminalizing those who sell their bodies.

Continue Reading UK’s First “Red-Light” District: Leeds Cruel Solution to Prostitution and Violence

08 Feb

Shutdown of sex-trafficking websites long overdue

By Alisa Bernard, The Seattle Times, 22/01/2016

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I CRIED with joy when I learned the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Bellevue Police Department, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the FBI shut down one of the longest-running sites promoting prostitution in the Northwest.

I know it’s one of the oldest online sites because more than a decade ago my body was being sold on it.

This website allows sex buyers to review women they have bought, encourages other men to do the same, and it does nothing to reduce the harm to these women. Reviews include such details as whether the women matched their pictures, to prices for each sex act or hour, thinly veiled in board lingo as “donations.”Continue Reading Shutdown of sex-trafficking websites long overdue