Demonstrations to press Israel on prostitution

Demonstrations to put international pressure on Israeli lawmakers to criminalize the purchase of sexual services in Israel will be held in four major cities.

The protests, organized by Israel’s Atzum-Justice Works, will be held Sunday, Feb. 5 outside Israel’s embassy and consulate buildings in New York, Washington and London, as well as the Knesset in Jerusalem.

The demonstrations are meant to show support for a bill that would levy severe punishment on consumers of sexual services in Israel. The bill is to be voted on Feb. 12 by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

The legislation, proposed by Orit Zuaretz of the Kadima Party, is based on laws enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and, most recently, France. The model works on the principle that to effectively combat sex trafficking and prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.

“Simply put, prostitution is a form of modern slavery and must be eradicated — not just in Israel but throughout the world,” said Rabbi Levi Lauer, founding executive director of Atzum.

“There must be real consequences in place for those who purchase sex to the great detriment of women, children and Israeli society as a whole.”

More than 15,000 individuals are estimated to be working in the prostitution industry in Israel, including 5,000 minors. — jta