The Pussycat strip club in central Tel Aviv, which has been accused for years of housing a brothel, was issued an evacuation order and is due to shut down on Tuesday. The club operated recently without a license, despite police raids and a stubborn legal battle to remove it.
The state and municipality-owned Atarim Corporation, a member of the JTLV Group, announced the closure, saying it would take effect on January 1, 2019. “If the club is not vacated, the renters will be considered trespassers,” said developers. “The group will not allow prostitution on its properties. We sent several warnings to the club’s owners, indicating that the rental contract would not be renewed. Failing to evacuate the premises will be regarded as trespassing.”
The JTLV Group further noted that “developers who bought ownership over private property at Atarim Square, including this club, have taken on a huge rehabilitation project that is necessary in this area. It is expected to begin soon.” The first stage will include the evacuation of the club and the storerooms underneath it. “The place encourages the abuse of women and is a nuisance to neighbors in the vicinity. We’ll see to it that instead of crime and prostitution there’ll be culture and art in this location.”
“The Pussycat club should have been shut down by the municipality and the police two years ago,” says attorney Nitzan Kahana, a joint director of a campaign against trafficking in women and prostitution. “Even though the club advertised itself as a strip club, there is evidence that it served as a brothel. Following our petition to the courts, the club’s license was revoked more than two years ago. It’s regrettable that the authorities didn’t carry out their legal obligation to shut it down, but it’s good that this will happen soon.”
Kahana added that a police raid two years ago found rear rooms that contained condoms and drugs. The raid also revealed that out of every 400 shekels a woman was paid, she gave 100 to the club’s owner. “I can’t understand how it continued to operate after that. If it were a juice stand that operated without a license, city hall would have closed it long ago,” she noted.
“The square will no longer have a club that epitomized the abuse of women,” Kahana continued. “Its central location became over the years an attraction for many men, who arrived to exploit young women as prostitutes, every night, in the club’s back rooms. We welcome the evacuation and hope it’s another step on the road to clearing the public domain of exploitation of women.”
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