Prostitutes earn big bucks for pimps, Israeli police say

Nativ head Ya'acov Kedmi, whose organization forwards intelligence material from the ex-USSR to the Internal Security Ministry, said the problems could be drastically reduced within a month if a special police unit dealing with the issue were established to centralize the data.

"Right now, the policeman at Ben-Gurion Airport can do nothing and the policeman on the street in Bat Yam can do nothing, and they don't even talk to each other," Kedmi said. He said the police put the trade in women lower on their order of priorities than the drug trade, security, "and even car thefts."

Police Assistant Cmdr. Ina Wolf agreed with Kedmi about problems regarding the lack of central data. Wolf and Davidovitch said a model is being prepared to handle the phenomenon and the report would be shortly forwarded to the decision-makers.

Irit Omanit, director of the Haifa Emergency Shelter for Women, said that on five occasions recently she has accepted at the shelter women who were exploited as prostitutes, even though the shelter framework is not suitable for them. She said the women who agree to give evidence against the pimps and traders should be given the status of state witnesses and protected.

She also said the matter should not be seen as a women's issue but as a social issue, particularly "because we are fast heading in the direction of trade in minors for prostitution and slavery."

Israel Women's Network lawyer Rachel Benziman also said the women who agree to give evidence against their pimps should be protected. However, in many cases, she said, they are simply deported directly to their homelands, where the traders can find and kill them.

The committee agreed to a suggestion by Meretz member Naomi Chazan to hold another session after the police report has been submitted and also to draw up the committee's own suggestions.