Israel Approves $24-million Plan to Rehabilitate Prostituted Women

Following the criminalization of buying sex, cabinet ministers endorsed a scheme to set up emergency housing and rehabilitation hostels

File photo: An anti-prostitution rally in memory of a murdered sex worker, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday a program for rehabilitating prostituted women, following the passage of a law against buying sex in early January. Ministers allocated a budget of 90 million shekels ($24.5 million) over three years for the plan.

The plan, drawn up based on recommendations by an inter-ministerial task force, dictates that the Social Affairs Ministry set up emergency housing, transitional housing and rehabilitation hostels for prosituted mothers and young women, and formulate a special program for women with children.

Another hostel would be set up for transgender prostitutes, and social workers and therapists would be hired to work with LGBTQ prostitutes. The ministry, together with the National Insurance Institute, would examine whether to provide a special allowance to women seeking to leave prostitution.

>> Read more: Israel's law against prostitution heralds a new era of gender equality ■ Prostitution survivors' poems on display in Tel Aviv tell stories of hardship and hope

The Health Ministry would increase the activity of clinics treating to former prostitutes and open up new ones. The ministry would also invest in training professionals in the health organizations and hospitals to better serve this population.

The Education Ministry is tasked with developing material for students on healthy sexuality and preventing sexual harm. Training will be expanded for school professionals so they can better identify children at risk of exploitation or prostitution.

“The government has taken an important step in the struggle to reduce the consumption of prostitution through an effective rehabilitation program,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. “The program is designed to help bring women and men out of the cycle of prostitution and give them the opportunity to start a new life.”

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 12

The cabinet also tasked a committee of ministry directors-general to draw up a plan to combat human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, to be based on the multiyear plan for combating human trafficking and slavery that was formulated by the Justice Ministry.

The plan would address issues of enforcement, including the role of the web. In the realm of protecting victims, efforts would focus on vulnerable populations. There would also be mechanisms for overseeing the employment of foreigners. Relevant training would be provided to the relevant public employees.