(JTA) – Demonstrations to put international pressure on Israeli lawmakers to criminalize the purchase of sexual services in Israel are set to be held in four major cities worldwide.
Organized by the ATZUM-Justice Works social activism organization, the protests will be held Feb. 5 outside the Israeli Embassy and Consulate buildings in New York, Washington and London, as well as the Knesset in Jerusalem.
The demonstrations are expected to show support for a bill to be voted on Feb. 12 by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation that would levy severe punishment on consumers of sexual services in Israel.
The legislation, proposed by Orit Zuaretz of the Kadima Party, is based on laws that have been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and most recently in France. The model works on the principle that in order to effectively combat sex trafficking and prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.
"Simply put, prostitution is a form of modern slavery and must be eradicated — not just in Israel but throughout the world," said Rabbi Levi Lauer, founding executive director of ATZUM.
"The time has come for our society to stop tolerating the purchase of sexual services. There must be real consequences in place for those who purchase sex to the great detriment of women, children and Israeli society as a whole."
More than 15,000 individuals are estimated to be working in the prostitution industry in Israel, including 5,000 minors.