MK Lavie ‘A historic step that will change the reality for women, men, and the society as a whole.’
Ministerial committee approves the proposal to incriminate the clients of prostitution
Today, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposal of Chairperson of the Knesset Subcommittee on Combating Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) to incriminate the clients of prostitution and establish of rehabilitation services for the men and women who have been trapped in prostitution. The proposal, which was introduced together with with MKs Shuli Moalem and Zehava Galon, will be merged with a government proposal to be formulated following the publication of conclusion of the Justice Minister’s inter ministerial committee. This proposal has already been signed by over 70 Knesset members.
The purpose of this law is to eradicate prostitution in Israel by providing the assistance to women, men, and minors, allowing them to exit the industry through its prohibition and the provision of rehabilitation services.
The bill is based upon elements of the Nordic model which incriminates the clients of prostitution. It was first enacted in Sweden in 1999, and then adopted in Norway, Finland, Iceland and Canada. In recent months, Ireland, France and Scotland have also enacted similar legislation. According to the proposal, engaging in prostitution will be defined as a criminal offense, in which participants could incur a fine or mandatory attendance in a community program, similar to the current program operating in Israel.
The proposal, which was formulated in cooperation with professionals and after more than a year of in-depth discussion in the Knesset subcommittee, was approved with the submission of recommendations of Justice Minister’s interministerial committee. The purpose of the proposal, according to MK Lavie, will be to give special emphasis on the rehabilitation of women in prostitution and continue and improve the implementation of the Government’s 2006 National Plan for Combating Prostitution.
An interministerial committee, including representatives from the Ministries of Public Security, Justice, Welfare, and Health, and with representatives from NGOs, will present national and regional goals to reduce prostitution in all of its manifestations. The committee will submit, within six months of the law’s approval, an assistance program providing services to the survivors of prostitution, including: employment, housing, health and education. According to MK Lavie and the supporting non-governmental organizations, the rehabilitation program is detailed, effective and feasible.
MK Lavie said: “This an exciting and historic moment. The incrimination of the clients of prostitution is first and foremost a moral statement by a state against a phenomenon that has devastating consequences for thousands of men, women, minors, and society as a whole. The law will cut off the demand for prostitution, the driving force behind the industry. It will in addition provide assistance to the victims of prostitution, lifting and reintegrating them into society.”
She added: “This step is made possible thanks to the unprecedented support and cooperation from all sides of the political and civil spectrum, and I thank everyone who took part in this important battle. I sincerely thank Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the members of the Ministerial Committee for supporting the promotion of such a valuable and important decision and for all the organizations that are partners and dedicated to the struggle every day. This is only the first step – and I hope that from here we will continue to work together and advance this legislative process in the Knesset, as well as increase public awareness and rehabilitation for the men and women who leave this industry.”