Poll: Public Backs Legal Prostitution

Gideon Alon
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Gideon Alon

Almost two-thirds of the public believe that prostitution should be legalized, according to a survey presented yesterday in a joint meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and and the subcommittee on trafficking in women.

The survey, conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemach, polled a representative sampling of 500 men and women.

It showed that 65 percent of those polled supported legalizing prostitution and licensing prostitutes. Sixty percent of those polled said that if the Knesset legalized prostitution, prostitutes should be granted all the rights of other Israeli workers.

Thirty-four percent said they would not hire an otherwise qualified person if they discovered she had worked as a prostitute, while 60 percent said they were sure or believed they would hire such a person.

A prostitute who had been a victim of trafficking testified that since arriving in Israel by way of Romania, under a false name, she was bought and sold five times. She said she was forced to receive between seven and 15 clients a day, each of whom paid her NIS 150, and all of which was taken by her pimp.

"I was treated like trash, as if I were an object," she said. "I got to the point where I thought I had no life."

Another prostitute said that after she was arrested by the Immigration Police and jailed for three months, she sued her pimp and won.

Committee chair Eti Livni (Shinui) said that 98 percent of those employed in prostitution in Israel were victims of trafficking in women.

The chair of the subcommittee on trafficking, MK Zahava Gal-On, said prostitutes "don't choose this profession freely, but are sucked into it out of terrible distress."

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