The Prohibition of Solicitation of Prostitution Services Bill passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum on Monday, October 22, by a vote of 39-0. Under the terms of the bill, first-time offending Johns would be fined NIS 1,500, with the penalty increasing to NIS 3,000 for those who repeat the offense within three years. Courts would be empowered to raise the fines to a maximum of NIS 75,300.
The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state, “Over the past few years, there is a growing recognition in Israel that the prostitution embodies very hurtful characteristics and that it must be diminished through rehabilitation, informing the public, education and enforcement.”
During the debate held prior to the vote, MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said, “What we are doing here today proves that society can be changed and that things can be corrected. Prostitution is the tip of gender inequality, and this should cease to exist. Working in prostitution is not a free choice. While the bill does not include criminal sanctions, it does convey an important message to the public.”
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), the head of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality said, “For me this issue was theoretical until that tour of the prostitution scene, which shook me to my core. I suggest that all members of Knesset go and see with their own eyes the exploitation and the sense of dignity being taken away. We
are at a critical time in history, the beginning of a revolution in this issue. The struggle is starting to come to fruition.”
The bill will now be transferred to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which will prepare it for its second and third readings.