Survey: Most Israelis Think State Must Crack Down on Sex Industry

80 percent of secular, Jewish Israelis believe sex workers need government support to escape the profession.

More than 80 percent of Israel's Jewish, non-Orthodox population feels that prostitution harms human dignity and society and that it is a phenomenon that must be confronted.

These findings were part of a survey conducted by the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister's Office. The study also found that 50 percent of Israel's Jewish, non-Orthodox population thinks there should be legislation to ban or limit the solicitation of sex services.

The study was commissioned in order to gauge public views on prostitution. It surveyed 430 male and female Hebrew-speaking respondents from all sectors, with the exception of the ultra-Orthodox.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said that the pimp is the sole criminal in prostitution rings, while 68 percent said that participation in prostitution stems from severe distress. Only 18 percent said that women become prostitutes of their own accord.

A respectable number of those questioned - 43 percent - were unaware that most prostitutes start selling their bodies when they were adolescents, and 41 percent said that prostitution is a profession in all senses. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 87 percent, felt that women cannot escape the profession without the State's help.

"The public holds progressive views regarding the phenomenon of prostitution, and especially regarding the need for legislation against the solicitation of sex services," said Mirit Danon, head of the authority.

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Thursday will host a seminar about prostitution in Israel and what can be done to minimize it.