An essential part of our lives
as followers of Yeshua is to improve the communities we live in. Yeshua
spoke of fulfilling the commandments through showing compassion and meeting
the needs of others. Human trafficking in Israel is a terrible crime.
According to the words and example of Yeshua, I felt compelled to act.
What are the facts?
Latest estimates place the number of individuals who regularly work as
prostitutes in Israel at approximately 15,000, of which 98% are female.
Many prostitutes serve multiple clients daily and statistics indicate that
there are over 1,000,000 purchases of sexual services every month.
The sex industry in Israel reportedly generates 2.4 billion NIS every year,
the vast majority of which fuels organized crime. Women engaged in this
industry become victims of abuse on a regular basis: they are beaten,
robbed, burned, raped and exposed to a variety of STDs. Those who claim
these women enjoy their 'job' are unaware of their reality, or
are simply ignoring the painful truth.
How does a woman become a prostitute?
Nobody wants to see their sister, wife or daughter selling her body in
exchange for money. So how does it happen? The answer to that difficult
question lies in first realizing that there is very little choice involved
in the process. Young women do not consciously choose a career that will
involve repeated abuse. To understand the reality of these women's
lives we must first recognize them for what they are - victims.
The sad truth is that the stories of these women often begin with sexual
abuse at a young age. Many develop an unhealthy pattern of relationships
involving exploitation whereby they use their sexuality to gain favor. Most
enter into a line of work at a young age (14 is the national average) that
provides them with a sense of self-value in the only way they know, selling
their bodies. Although the majority of prostitutes are Israeli citizens,
there are also women who are duped into prostitution, and trafficked to
Israel where they are forced to serve clients.
What has been done to help?
Three years ago MK Orit Zu'aretz (of the Likud political party)
presented the Knesset with a bill proposing to adopt the Swedish
anti-prostitution legislation model which sets the criminal responsibility
on the client and not the prostitute. The idea behind this bill is that as
long as there is demand, someone will provide the service - willingly or
not. Therefore, the law sets out to punish the victimizer, and not the
victim. Several months ago the bill passed its first of three voting rounds
in the Knesset. Simultaneously, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice and
other organizations have been raising public awareness for the phenomenon
of human trafficking and prostitution in Israel through journalism, social
campaigns and by mobilizing volunteers to influence government officials.
Successful models in other countries
The issue of prostitution raises many responses. Many will call for it to
be legalized and monitored by the government. Others will demand that
prostitution be outlawed altogether or for prostitutes to be punished.
When looking past the moral dilemma of prostitution, one truth emerges: the
fruit of prostitution is a society addicted to sex, whose image of
sexuality is corrupted by an obsession with exploitive sex and pornography.
The truth is that countries that have legalized prostitution or taken the
opposite stance and focused on the problem by punishing prostitutes have
experienced more crime, abuse and degradation of women in their societies.
The only legislative response to successfully reduce the number of
prostitutes and clients has been the Swedish model. Sweden punishes the
"Johns" for purchasing sex by sending them to "John School" where they hear
the testimony of rehabilitated prostitutes. Repeat offenders are imprisoned
for up to six months.
What can I do?
As you read these words you might ask yourself, "What can I do?" As
followers of Yeshua, we are called to bring His kingdom into this world, to
change evil into good and tend to those who are hurt. Practically, here is
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Pray for the victims of prostitution.
- Pray for the State of Israel to pass the "Criminalization of the
- Pray for the Kingdom of Yeshua to be revealed through this work.
Spread the truth regarding the phenomenon of prostitution. Work to
raise awareness and shift the perception of reality in the mind of
others on this matter.
In conclusion, we are called to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).
Let's live up to that challenge.
Mati Shoshani is the Chief Operations Officer with the Jerusalem
Institute of Justice, an organization set on promoting justice in
Israel through social, legal, and public/political projects.
www.jij.org.il. For more information
on human trafficking in Israel watch this video: