Prostitution has existed since the dawn of history, and it is doubtful that it will fade away. The attempt to block it by means of preventing the advertising of sex for sale is a barren attempt not providing information about the supply will not prevent the demand. But de-legitimizing the demand could bear more significant fruit, and supervising prostitution could be beneficial to those on whom life has forced this intolerable living.
The last meeting of the Knesset subcommittee on the prevention of trafficking in women headed by Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On was devoted to a discussion on preventing the advertising of sex for sale. Provision 205[C] of the Punishment Law stipulates that it is forbidden to publish advertising in the matter of the giving of prostitution services, and sets forth a series of reservations, the use of which could defend the publication and sale of glossy pamphlets containing the addresses of prostitutes.
The slack language of the law, as well as the committee's Sisyphean action, do not sufficiently clarify the difference between prostitution that has a definite commercial aspect, and trade where women are imprisoned and their lives depend on their agreement to have sexual relations with clients.
Organizations for the defense of the rights of the weak, like Ha'Moked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, and the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, are demanding the state's involvement in the problem. Without any difficulty, they are collecting hundreds of explicit publications: leaflets, cards that are stuck in car windows, and advertisements for 'massage' in the daily press.
The Public Security Ministry is also cooperating, but this is not enough: Over the past two years, the number of complaints in this area that have resulted in an indictment has increased from a single-digit number to a low two-digit number. The number of initial complaints is at least in the hundreds. With advertisements or without them, brothels and the women in them will continue to exist. The distribution and use of this information is impossible to prevent.
What is possible to change, however, is the social tolerance toward the users of women as merchandise. It is not the publisher, the advertising agency and the printer who make money from the advertisement who should bear the burden of the unacceptable social code. Society as a whole has to condemn those who are incapable of distinguishing between merchandise and a human being.
Had we been exposed to the problems that accompany the 'merchandise,' it is possible that we would have been deterred by and would have deterred the use of women whose living is the sale of their bodies and souls. Had the psychological price that the women pay been added to the price tag for an hour, those who purchase their hours would have reconsidered whether to take out their wallets.
The campaign against trafficking in women has to act on three fronts: the prevention of the smuggling-abduction of women for the purpose of prostitution; the arrest of the proprietors of brothels; and fining those who publish advertisements for sex. It would be even wiser to enlist everyone whose voice is heard in public toward writing a new social code that will root out the idea of acquiring a woman by the hour. The war against the advertisements will, in any case, end with a whimper.
Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich tried to anchor her claim that prostitution is not a profession in the correct statement that there is no little girl who wants to be a whore when she grows up. Nevertheless, the world is full of exploited and degraded prostitutes. Most of them are subject to the authority of a person who is several times stronger than they are. If we care about their lives, we should think about concrete help.
Even though the institutionalization of prostitution is fundamentally evil in the very fact of giving a moral seal of approval to the consumption of sex for pay, the welfare of the prostitutes comes first. Engaging in prostitution brings with it a series of physical and psychological problems: bruises, unwanted pregnancies, venereal diseases, escape to drugs, more diseases, more psychological dulling. The desire not to institutionalize prostitution for reasons of moral values is denying these women a bit of supervision, and a bit of medical and psychological help. If the aid organizations want to ease the prostitutes' distress, they should remember that wiping out prostitution is against human nature, but limiting it is possible.
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