Bill Would Prosecute Patrons of Prostitutes in Israel — for Fourth Offense

This and other recommendations were submitted to an interministerial committee that is examining ways to reduce sex work in Israel

A prostitute working in the old central bus station area of Tel Aviv.
Nir Kafri

The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry is recommending that individuals caught patronizing prostitutes for the fourth time be charged with a crime. This and other recommendations were submitted to an interministerial committee that is examining ways to reduce sex work in Israel.

Under the recommendations, the first time a customer is caught, he will be warned or fined at least 1,000 shekels ($282), with the fine doubling for a second offense.

The ministry recommended that an individual’s first two offenses be treated as civil infractions if no other crimes were involved such as assault or drug dealing. The fines would be earmarked for education and rehabilitation projects.

A third offense would result in conditional charges, community service and a mandatory intervention program that includes a workshop on the ramifications of prostitution. Noncompliance would result in criminal prosecution.

A fourth offense would result in immediate criminal prosecution, including the possibility, as in any prosecution, of an assessment regarding the appropriateness of treatment rather than imprisonment.

The ministry also announced on Monday that it was expanding its program for rehabilitating minors who engaged in sex work. Five such centers are already in operation, and 21 new group homes are planned.

The ministry also recommended improvements to the treatment given to women in prostitution, with a stress on rehabilitation and financial aid.