Monday, January 19, 2004

Panel hears grim details on child prostitution in Israel

By Zvi Zrahiya, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz - January 19, 2004

Over 1,000 minors around the country are involved in prostitution, with their parent's encouragement, the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee heard Monday. Dorit Brightman of the ELEM Youth in Distress non-profit organization told the committee that many of the minors are forced into prostitution because of the dire economic situation, and some have even died as a result.
The ELEM representatives also told the MKs that two or three children are known to each local authority to be involved in prostitution. "In addition, there are numerous youths who offer sex services in exchange for money and thus there are over 1,000 youths involved in prostitution," the representatives said.
Committee chairman, MK Shaul Yahalom (National Religious Party) said that "we must find a solution immediately to this terrible problem." He said that Labor and Social Affairs Ministry must place a particular emphasis on the matter and must make sure that there is never a situation where "a girl is found at night and by morning, [the authorities] don't know what to do with her."
The head of the Be'er Sheva's welfare department, Esther Amar, said that the State of Israel does not have enough rehabilitation programs to help youths who have been forced to resort to prostitution. Director-general of the Labor Ministry, Prof. Dov Goldberger, told the panel that no budget cuts would be made to rehabilitation programs for young women at risk.

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