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Jewish Journal

Sex slavery—in Israel!—is a serious problem

March 29, 2007 | 8:00 pm

In Israel, sex trafficking remains a very serious problem.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, women have been abducted or tricked into coming to Israel, only to be enslaved as prostitutes against their will.

Some 80 percent of the prostitutes in Israel are victims of trafficking, according to the Task Force on Human Trafficking, an organization devoted to eliminating the problem in Israel.

Like most trafficking victims around the world, Israel's sex slaves are primarily recruited from poverty-stricken areas, where they are vulnerable because they are in search of a better life, according to Israel's task force on human trafficking.

They are promised jobs as waitresses or hotel workers and are often flown to Egypt and then smuggled across the border.

Their passports are confiscated, they are sold to pimps and brothels -- sometimes at "slave auctions" -- and are forced to work 14- to 18-hour-days in squalid conditions.

According to the Task Force, some 3,000 women per year are trafficked into Israel as sex slaves, although police have said the number is lower due to higher vigilance in fighting the crime.

In October, the Israeli parliament passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, expanding the definition of trafficking and allowing more protection for victims.

As is true of trafficked victims in the United States, trafficking victims in Israel are often arrested after being liberated from their captors, then face deportation, since they are in the country illegally.

The law gives traffickers punishments of 16 to 20 years in prison, similar to the sentences for other serious crimes, such as rape. It also provides victims with legal representation and funds that have been confiscated from traffickers.

"Our mission is to help Israel put an end to human trafficking within its borders," the task force Web site reads.

Or, as the hotline for a migrant workers' Web site says, quoting Exodus:

"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

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