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Saturday, 7 April 2007

21st Century Israeli Women Slave trade

Israeli Women cannot be bought like Shawarma

During Tel Aviv demonstration, former MK Yael Dayan calls for end to women trafficking; 'it's more than rape,' she says. Haifa representative says prostitutes forced to look for customers in city's streets during war, in spite of rockets

Women rights activists held a demonstration against women trafficking Wednesday, during which they chanted slogans such as "Police, women are not goods" and "Customers are rapists."

Activist congregated in Tel Aviv's Golomb Street in to commemorate the murder of four women in a bordello in 2000. Demonstrators protested outside a handful of brothels in the city.

"That's more than rape. Each and every one of these traded women here is potentially murdered. It's a disgrace for our country and society," said former MK Yael Dayan, the head of the welfare division at the Tel Aviv Municipality.

"Laws have been passes, a parliamentary committee and the objection continues. We thought the phenomenon would die out but unfortunately we are here again," she said.

Protestors condemn women trafficking

Dayan blamed males for the sex industry: "These women are like goods, they can't save themselves. Men give them the right to live: Pimps
and customers … it is unacceptable that as I can buy shawarma someone can buy a woman."

Esther Ilam, a founder of the Center for Victims of Sexual Assault, condemned the lack of implementation of laws against trade in women. "A study conducted lately showed that 80 percent of the Israeli public blame the pimps and 20 percent blame the customers," she said.

Business as usual in north

Protesters said in some area of Tel Aviv drug-addicted women sell themselves for NIS 20 (about USD 4.5) to overcome withdrawal symptoms.

The municipality offers assistance to women holding Israeli residency permits, leaving dozens of women short of basic health and support assistance.

Immigrants and residents of other Israeli cities are left out as they depend on their pimps and can't contact municipal authorities or the police.

Rita Hikin from the Woman for Woman feminist center in Haifa said that in July and early August pimps in Haifa sent their prostitutes to look for costumers on the city's street, ignoring the threat of rocket attacks.

The emergency situation in the city led the municipality to halt its assistance to sex workers, Hikin said, adding that pimps refused center workers to speak to prostitutes in the city.

'Police see prostitution as something natural'

Not only women were there. Gilad, 28, of Tel Aviv, came to show support for the protesters.

"It's sick to say prostitution is a matter of free choice," he said.

Ephraim Bar, one of the organizers, explained why brothels are so plentiful when there is a law that bans them.

"There is no problem to close all clubs (brothels) in Israel withing two hours. But the police turn a blind eye because brothel owners are police agents. They report on crime and prostitutes are the victims. Police consider theft and drugs are more serious offenses than offenses against women," he said.

Israel's sex slaves

Israel an international center of modern-day slavery

Roni Aloni-Sadovnik

The United Nations recently marked 200 years since the annulment of the transatlantic slave trade. Yet we must recall that in the year 2007, as us Jews celebrate our liberation from slavery, there are still 12.3 million slaves across the world, including at least 3,000 women being traded in Israel – and another thousands of foreign workers who are subjugated here to a life of slavery and humiliation.

Turning a person into another person's property and taking away someone's freedom while taking advantage of their economic helplessness mark the opposite of democracy. Their very presence in our modern-day world proves that we have never left Egypt, even though Egypt has left us.

According to estimates by the foreign workers assistance call center, every month there are about a million "visits" to slaves who are traded into slavery in Israel. These painful figures prove that we forgot the lesson of history, which showed us that evil and moral decay spread in societies that turn a blind eye to this phenomenon – such societies ultimately lose all their values.

The struggle against international crime organizations that run the global slave trade cannot succeed unless it is undertaken on the local level. Under this state of affairs, we could expect the Free World's leader – America, the mother of liberty – to lead the global struggle against slavery. How disappointing that even those who suffered from slavery in America are no longer interested in this issue.

For example, Barack Obama, the African-American presidential candidate and senator from Illinois, declared that thanks to the millions who backed President Lincoln, there is no longer slavery and no North against South. Is there indeed no slavery in America today? No slavery in the world? These words illustrate the deafening silence of world leaders and their priorities when it comes to the prospering market of woman trade in particular and human beings in general.

Growing like cancer

The institution of slavery is different at different places and times, and shows a new face in accordance with the socioeconomic and moral-religious circumstances of every society. At the outset of the third millennium, we can see how the wealthy and aggressive West subjugates the peoples of eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa to fulfill its corporeal needs.

However, as a Jewish woman who works against the woman trade in Israel, my disappointment and anger are not only directed at Obama and his ilk abroad; in the same breath, I wonder about what is taking place here, with the people that has been celebrating with devotion for 2,000 years now the Passover holiday to mark our shift from slavery to liberty.

This Passover, we must tell our children not only about the story of our enslavement in Egypt and our freedom being robbed for 400 years; we must remind everyone that the struggle is not over yet. The national trauma of one group of people enslaving another group of human beings is common to all nationalities and not only the Jews.

We must talk about the horror of Israel, which pledged never to forget, turning into the largest international center in the Middle East – and one of the global leaders – in the export and import of new slavery.

Both societies are charged with the moral decree of leading the battle against slavery. The sad and painful history of the Jewish people and the African-American community in the United States is painfully similar, yet the leaders of those two communities are ignoring the phenomenon of the new slavery, which is growing like cancer.

During Lincoln's time, the North fought the South, and slaves were imported from poverty-stricken Africa to serve the white man. Since that time, the backdrop has changed, but slavery still exists. It has become more sophisticated and more brutal, and there is no Lincoln who will get up and declare a civil war against it.

The writer heads the Israeli organization for fighting the woman trade