Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Study: Brothels earn $450m. a year
By Nina Gilbert
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition - March 17, 2004
One million "visits" are made by clients every month to brothels in the country who channel some $450 million annually into the local sex industry, according to a report presented Wednesday to the Knesset Committee of Inquiry into Women Trafficking.
The committee dedicated its session on Wednesday to customers, which committee chair Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) termed the "undercover partner" to women traffickers.
The report was drafted by a joint project against women trafficking conducted by Hebrew University and Foreign Workers Aid Center.
Hani Ben-Yisrael, a researcher from the Hebrew University, said that the customers are not viewed as persons who are carrying out an abnormal or controversial act. Instead, she said customers have a "high level" of legitimacy.
According to Ben-Yisrael, the customers cannot be characterized according to any specific socioeconomic profile. They come from all sectors of society, and are of all ages, religions, and cultures she said. In Israel, as in other countries, the customer base is comprised overwhelmingly of locals.
The report recommended that customers be prosecuted according to the anti-rape laws in the Penal Code.
However, a representative of the State Attorney's Office, Anat Hulta, said that the state opposes enforcing the law against sex customers. She said it would be very difficult to build cases, because it must be proven that the woman who served the customer is being held against her will and that the customer was aware of this.
MK Marina Soldokin (Likud) said she would consider drafting legislation directed specifically against prostitution customers that would serve to deter them from seeking such services.
But Gal-On said she opposes legislation against customers and efforts should be invested instead in public awareness against the phenomenon of women trafficking.
Police estimate that some 3,000 women are working as prostitutes as a part of women trafficking rackets, according to the report. The one million figure is derived from the assumption that the women work 30 days a month, and serve 10 clients a day.