Over the objections of some government agencies and social welfare groups, a new Israeli law has gone into effect that makes it illegal to seek the services of a prostitute.
Under the terms of the law that went info effect Friday, first-time offenders will be fined 2,000 NIS ($580), Walla! reported. For a repeat offense, the sum will be doubled. The law is temporary and expires in five years, to allow the government to examine whether it is effective.
LGBTQ and women’s rights groups had sought to delay the law’s implementation, as had the Community Empowerment and Advancement Minister Orly Levy-Abekasis and the Public Security Ministry.
But Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn declined to postpone.
"Women are not property and their bodies are not for rent at any price,' Nissenkorn tweeted Friday.
Last week, Nissenkorn tweeted: "The Prohibition on Prostitution bill will come into effect on time. July 10th. I am aware of the concerns and difficulties, we will implement the necessary solutions for rehabilitation, treatment and assistance. Israel will join a series of advanced countries that have made it clear that consumption of prostitution is an abusive norm that must be reduced."
Walla! noted that there are no updated numbers on how popular prostitution is in Israel, but in 2016, a government study estimated that Israel had about 12,000 sex workers - 95% and 5% men - including 1,100 minor girls and 40 minor boys. The study also showed that the industry is worth about $318 million annually.
In 2005, Israel was added to a US State Department human trafficking watch list, but it was removed from that list by 2012.