Sex Trafficking in Israel
Monday, November 12, 2007 1:25 PM

BBC News recently published an article on sex trafficking in Israel. The article traces the development of campaigns against sex trafficking since the early 1990s when sex trafficking exploded in Israel. 

Prostitution is legal in Israel, however, maintaining a brothel or pimping is not.  But until recently these laws were rarely enforced. Thus, Israel became an easy site for traffickers moving women from former Soviet Union countries and other parts of the world. The movement process was easy, foreign women typically went for higher prices than local women, and the risks were low.

The first case of trafficking was found in 1992. The result of the growing phenomena by the government was to crack down on illegal smuggling and stiffened jail times for traffickers. Yet trafficked women continually found they were asked to testify and then deported. The BBC report even tells the horrific story of a trafficked woman who had to run from both her traffickers and the Israel police trying to deport her.

Things changed for the better when Israel finally passed an anti-trafficking bill in 2000 which penalized sexual exploitation.  However, activists found that the law was still too lenient.  In 2004, the government opened a shelter specifically for trafficked women, which marked a significant change in the governmental mentality towards trafficked women. 

All in all, BBC says that Israel has made large strides in combatting trafficking. Yet despite claims that the number of trafficked persons has lessened since the government took action, NGOs claim that trafficking may just be becoming more hidden.  The battle, therefore, is "far from won."

Compiled from: "Israel's Fight Against Sex Trafficking," by Raffi Berg, BBC News: Middle East,, 6 November 2007.