Shoppers strolling through Dizengoff Center mall in Tel Aviv on Tuesday were confronted with a shocking widow display of women for sale, with price tags attached to them.
Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that the display was part of an installation by the Working Group Against the Trafficking of Women, part of a widespread campaign.
Seven unkempt young women stood in front of shoppers passing back and forth under a sign that read "Women for sale according to personal taste." Some of the women were made up to appear as if they had been beaten, and all had price tags that listed details such as age, weight, dimensions, and country of birth.
The stated purpose of the installation is to solicit a large amount of signatures to submit to the Minister of Justice, in order to put forth a private member's bill by Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz to criminalize johns who solicit sexual services. Members of the Working Group believe that a law like this could eradicate the phenomenon of trafficking in women.
"The victims of trafficking don't get to rest during the day, so we don't either," explained lawyer Uri Keidar, one of the organization's founders. "Actually, what we see here happens all the time all over the country, and here in the mall you simply cannot ignore the reality in front of your face."
Keidar continued, "Our objective is to bring the issue to the attention of the public and cause people to come to an opinion on the topic. Naturally, we are also working to put forth a law that would come down on the procurers of prostitutes."
According to Keidar, this bill has already been sitting and gathering dust at the Ministry of Justice for two years, but hasn’t been legislated yet. "The law will cause a reduction in the demand for prostitution, and therefore also a reduction in the trafficking of women," Keidar explained.
"In Sweden it has already happened, and that's what we want to do here in Israel, as well," Keidar added.
The installation, called "Woman To Go," has thus far received a great deal of attention from mallgoers. Very few passersby have reacted either negatively or apathetically, and most seem to support the struggle, with many taking an interest and signing the petition. According to the event organizers, the petition has already garnered hundreds of signatures.
MK Zuaretz herself was among the activists standing in front of the installation on Tuesday to explain its significance to the public and to encourage people to sign the petition. "This 'Trafficked Women Store' brings the back alleys of the country into public view at the mall, and presents the reality that everyone is trying to ignore," Zuaretz said.
"I am planning to pass this petition on to the Minister of Justice at a meeting to debate the bill to criminalize johns, which will reflect the true desire of the people of Israel," Zuaretz added.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now