Hiring Prostitutes In Israel Heads Toward Criminal Offense

Paying for a prostitute’s services will soon become illegal in Israel if a bill the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday becomes law.

The bill, a rare case of cooperation across the political spectrum proposed by Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On and Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, also seeks to establish a national plan to fight the phenomenon of prostitution and rehabilitate sex workers.

Lavie called the vote historic and “a statement of values and morality by the state against a phenomenon that has a destructive influence on thousands of women, men and minors and society.”

“The bill will help reduce the demand for prostitution, which is what is propelling this entire industry, and rehabilitate the many women and men who left the cycle or sex work and reintegrate them into society,” Lavie, who is chairwoman of the Knesset Subcommittee to Combat Trafficking of Women and Prostitution, added.

The proposal is based on the “Nordic Model,” first legislated in Sweden in 1999 and since adopted by several other countries, most recently Ireland and France. The punishment for prostitutes’ clients would be a fine or participation in a preventive course, known as “John School.”

The bill also calls for an inter-ministerial committee to be formed between the Public Security, Justice, Welfare and Health Ministries, along with representatives of relevant NGOs to set national and regional goals toward eradicating prostitution of all kinds.

Within six months of the law passing, the committee will have to propose a plan to provide services to former prostitutes in the areas of employment, housing, health and education.

The rehabilitation plan is based on a cabinet decision from 2006, which was only partly implemented.

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