Israel Bans Paying for Prostitution

The Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ), a legal and research organization, has been advocating for a change in the law regarding prostitution for about ten years. Together with many others, they are now celebrating the huge breakthrough that came about on the last day of 2018: a law banning the buying of sex was passed unanimously in the Israeli Knesset.

Breakthrough for those trapped in prostitution

According to JIJ, there are some 14,000 women, men and children who are viciously exploited every day in Israel’s sex industry. Human trafficking reports rank Israel among third world nations due to the scale of the problem. The sex trade in Israel generates up to $500 million in revenue per year (that is over $60 a person!) and prostitution has been legal and widely available. But New Year’s Eve brought some very good news: the Israeli government passed a law making it a criminal offense to pay for prostitution, and supporting rehabilitation measures. The first time someone is caught, they will be fined 2,000 shekels ($534). The second time, that amount is doubled, but a third time can lead to a penalty of 75,300 NIS. Instead of criminalizing the sex workers, the law puts the penalty on those who exploit them.1

The YNet news agency reported that, “The justice minister can advocate an alternative to paying the fine, such as attending a workshop in order to raise awareness of the harm caused those trapped in a cycle of prostitution and to educate on the subject in order to prevent a repeat offense.”2

Aliza Lavie, who heads the subcommittee on the fight against prostitution and trafficking in women, described the breakthrough as:
“An emotional moment, that will help define the State of Israel as a society, as who we are and what our values are.”

Lavie, Knesset Member for the Yesh Atid (‘there is a future’) party, continued by saying, “Israel joins a list of countries who have made it clear that prostitution is an unacceptable norm, with disastrous consequences. The law rights a wrong that has been going on for too many years, and will help reduce the demand for prostitution that is the driving force behind this industry, through rehabilitation and reintegration into society of women and girls trapped in prostitution.”

Freedom for the captives

Join us in praying these powerful words from Isaiah, fulfilled in our Messiah, over those living in bondage here in Israel:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
 to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3


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1. YNet, Israel Bans Prostitution, Backs Rehabilitation for Sex Workers, Sahar Hai, 31/12/2018
2. Haaretz, Israel Passes a Law Banning the Buying of Sex, Jonathan Lis, 1/1/2019
Photo by Chester Wade on Unsplash

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