U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking
in Persons (TIP Office)
Fighting Against Trafficking in Women in Israel
The Year in Review: 2006
On behalf of
Isha L’Isha - Haifa Feminist Center & Machon Toda'a (Awareness Center)
On the whole, there is a great deal of improvement in the manner the authorities deal with the subject of human trafficking, especially in regards to prostitution. In October 2006, a new detailed law regarding human trafficking was established (Index 1).
In December 2006, two teams were established, both of which headed by Rachel Gershuni, Israel's National Coordinator of the Battle against Trafficking in Persons. The first team's role was to formulate recommendations to be taken into account when a national program for eradiating the phenomena would be activated. There are no statistics, but there is a rise in the way the academy now deals with the subject. Academics contact the relevant organizations to get material for essays and research studies in the field of trafficking for prostitution, prostitution and the sex industry on the Internet.
Nevertheless, unsolved problems still exist, notably bottleneck at courts which hinder graver punishments for the criminals and exaggerated plea bargains that enable severe criminals to get out with light punishments. Understandings made with the former court administrator, Boaz Okun, are not fully implemented. Furthermore, the problem of compensation for victims of trafficking who have already left the country and are unable to get the money in their home countries has returned. Israel cannot declare itself a well managed country unless it stops hindering compensation money, which is intended for trafficking victims in the accounts of courts.
The law against human trafficking, legislated in the Knesset in October, is new, advanced and refers to all humans regardless of origin, without any discrimination. Nonetheless, the authorities, who are supposed to enforce the law, still claim that "it only addresses victims who are not Israeli citizens". We strongly disagree. In 2006, we saw a drastic decline in human trafficking regarding people who are not Israeli. We know only about 20 women who were trafficked for prostitution and entered Israel during the previous year. However, the foundation of the sex industry still stands firm. The foreign women have been replaced by Israeli women from the lowest socio-economic classes, or women who experienced a sexual trauma in their childhood. Furthermore, the phenomenon of minors' prostitution has not been reduced, but increased, when the hunting takes place now through the Internet.
The separation between trafficking in persons and prostitution is extremely problematic. Foreign women have relatively proper solutions, whereas local women experience a complete lack of reference by the court and welfare, even in cases which obviously deal with unwilling prostitution or with youth under the age of 21 exploited in the sex industry.
Last year Rachel Gershuni was awarded with the Knight's Ornament. We strongly recommend awarding Knesset member Zehava Galon this year. She has been doing her job faithfully for the past 7 years, and to her we owe the success of the Knesset legislation of the new law, which can serve as an example to many countries all over the world.
1. Is Israel a country of origin, transit, or destination for internationally trafficked men, women, or children?
Israel is primarily a country of destination.
2. What is the extent of the problem? In 2006 the scope of trafficking in foreign women into Israel for prostitution purposes has dropped drastically. Isha L’Isha was in contact with 20 trafficking victims that arrived through Egypt during 2006; all the other victims that were encountered were already in Israel before 2006. Please provide statistics or estimates for each group, how they were trafficked, to where, and for what purpose.
a. Who are the victims of trafficking?
i. Please report on all countries of origin, transit or destination for a significant number (100 or more) of TIP victims. Trafficking routes have not changed and neither have the sources of trafficked women (i.e. we are seeing women trafficked from the same countries of origin: Ukraine (54), Moldova (30), Uzbekistan (29), Russia (22), Belarus (1), Kazakhstan (1), Romania (1), and a case of trafficking of Israeli women to Canada and UK (3). All 141 external trafficking victims were handles in 2006 by NGOs.
ii. If in your analysis Israel has an internal trafficking problem, please include that information in your response. We at Machon Toda'a Awareness Institute are aware of the internal trafficking problem which is not addressed by the authorities as it is still perceived as a local prostitution issue. We have been addressing the problem of local prostitution for the past 10 years and would like to point out that many young men and women are running away from home and falling prey to the sex industry traps. Eilat is a destination for many young runaways where they find “shelter” and are addressed by "good" people who offer them to make easy money through prostitution. We also noted a growing phenomenon of "hunting for new talent" through the Internet in forums and chat rooms (ICQ).There are no formal numbers available, as we have no way to estimate. However, since there is less trafficking in foreign victims, the infrastructure of the sex industry was not destroyed, and the demand has not decreased, local trafficking victims are trapped into the industry through different means. A particularly deceiving one is the striptease and lap-dance industry, which is flourishing not only in the center (Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan where it is licensed by the municipalities) but also in the North and the South of Israel.
iii. Are certain groups (e.g. boys vs. girls, children, certain ethnic groups, etc.) more at risk? Machon Toda'a estimates that the groups at risk are new immigrants with poor means of survival (especially from Russia and Ethiopia). In the Arab sector there is a growing problem which is not catered for and we are aware of more honor killings as well as forced marriages than we were aware of in previous years,
iv. What groups are targeted by traffickers? Regarding internal trafficking, the young population at risk is targeted. The Social Affairs Ministry is aware of at least 17,000 girls at risk. There are also young boys at risk who are not represented in the official figures. According to the statistics of ELEM, an NGO that serves young people at risk, the estimate of young persons in the sex industry amounts to several thousands throughout Israel. Regarding external trafficking neither Machon Toda'a nor Isha L'Isha can pinpoint with certainty targeted groups in the countries of origin.
b. For what purpose were the victims trafficked?
i. Please provide the number of victims trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation (In 2006 141 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation were perceived),
ii. the number of victims trafficked for the purpose of labor Not relevant, and the number of overall trafficking victims.
iii. Please provide, to the best of your ability, a numerical breakdown by sector for victims of labor trafficking. Not relevant to our line of work.
c. What are the methods of trafficking?
What methods are used to approach victims? (offered lucrative jobs, sold by their families, etc.) There are several methods known regarding external trafficking into Israel: forced marriages, women sold by their families, offered lucrative jobs, approached by a friend of the family, approached by a friend who returns from Israel, approached by a female friend who persuades to join her in Israel.
i. In addition to these methods, Machon Toda'a is aware of more methods in the internal trafficking for prostitution purposes: victims are approached by lover boys (a system which is developed now in Holland and in the UK where young women from difficult and poor surroundings are approached by young men and offered posh treatments (restaurants, clothes and drugs) and slowly are introduced into the sex industry.
ii. What methods are used to move the victims, such as false documents? False documents, false marriages (see for elaboration Index 1),
d. Where does trafficking occur?
i. Does trafficking occur within Israel’s borders? Yes
ii. Does trafficking occur in territory outside of the government’s control? Yes
e. What kind of conditions are the victims trafficked into? In 2006, the conditions of trafficking in women have changed. Isha L'Isha noticed that with regards to external trafficking into Israel the pimps and traffickers have become more resourceful and sophisticated. The external trafficking victims are no longer treated harshly or experience physical violence. They also receive payment but the number of clients increases up to 20- 30 clients a day. The traffickers and pimps use psychological incentives and know how to get the women to do what they want without any physical force. There is massive usage of drugs. The process of breaking the women and tempting them into the sex industry through drugs is also known in the local methods as explained earlier.
Please provide a general overview of the TIP situation in Israel, and any changes since May 1, 2006. Include your analysis of the government’s political will to address TIP. It seems that there is a positive change in the attitude of the government towards the issue of trafficking. There is a drastic decline in the number of foreign trafficking victims who entered Israel in 2006 (20 known cases) as well as better treatment for the victims of trafficking that are iterated by the police and the immigration police units. NGOs are called to identify whether the persons detected are victims of trafficking and if so they are admitted to the state shelter for foreign trafficking victims without delay and have a reflection period of 14 days to decide whether they will be willing to testify. If they decide not to testify, they are deported to their countries of origin at the government’s expense. If they decide to testify, they are eligible for a one year staying-permit after the trial is finalized. They are also entitled to receive medical care and rehabilitation treatment at the shelter. The shelter currently facilitates around 40 women and 6 children. In case there is a need to send the women to their countries of origin, the police have a unit that checks if it is dangerous for them to return. If it is confirmed that the victim’s return to her country is in any way dangerous, she receives additional stay permits until the time is right for her safe return. The women are officially allowed to work in the country during their stay at the shelter and receive medical coverage for this purpose as well.
However, the problem is that only women who are in the state shelter get medical aid. There are currently 14 other women supported through the Choosing Freedom project, which is a joint project of Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center, the Hotline for Migrant workers, and The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel that is managed Rita Chaikin from Isha L'Isha. Three other foreign victims of trafficking are helped by Machon Toda'a.
During December 2006, a team of NGO representatives and government officials was established by Rachel Gershuni. Its task is to establish recommendations for a national plan to combat the phenomenon of trafficking for prostitution purposes. Machon Toda'a and Isha L'Isha are part of this team as professional NGOs working with the issue. There is another team that establishes recommendations for combating trafficking for labor. There are also trainings for government officials on how to behave with trafficking victims. The IDF calls NGOs to give lectures to the soldiers on the topic. The Ministry of Interior held several conferences on the subject allowing NGOs to present their agenda.
However, in all of the above-mentioned there is a strong emphasis on foreign trafficking and not much consideration for local trafficking for prostitution purposes. The police have not yet acknowledged the fact that the infrastructure of the sex industry does not discern between foreign and local victims and all are subject to violence and risk their lives in this slavery-like trade.
3. What are the government’s limitations in addressing the problem, including aid to victims? (Funding, corruption etc.) No funding is given to the NGOs. For the moment, no medical aid is provided to victims of trafficking that are not staying in the state shelter. (see Index 3)
4. To what extent does the government systematically monitor its anti-trafficking efforts (on all fronts - prosecution, prevention, and victim protection) and periodically make available (publicly or privately, and directly through regional or international organizations) its assessments of these anti-trafficking efforts? On the prevention front, the only activity done so far is by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which distributed a Russian-language flier in the countries of origin to inform potential victims that Israel is a destination country. This activity was done as a cooperative effort of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Isha L'Isha. No other activity in the prevention front is known.
On the prosecution front, the police continue to carry out investigations. At the moment there are 50 persons suspected of trafficking and perpetrating being held, but due to a bottleneck in the courts’ schedule they have not been put on trial for a long period. This was the issue in the last plea bargain that was published. Eight traffickers who were held in custody for over a year were released with only a few months in prison and a fine, as the High Court threatened to release them altogether if the case does not go to trial soon. This specific case is very disturbing, as the place where these perpetrators were working is still open and the police raid on the place was filmed by the news to show how the victims of trafficking were held in hidden places and were treated very badly by the traffickers. According to the information NGOs received during a meeting held by the Knesset committee, headed by MK Zehava Galon, there are still 25 cases in the courts. Each criminal’s case lasts around 1-2 years because of the bottleneck at the courts and the need for three judges in each of the cases.
There is still not much awareness among judges that the victims of trafficking should receive compensations. Hence, only about half of the cases are resolved with the necessary compensation for the victims. Unfortunately, most of the compensations paid are minimal.
On the victims’ protection front there is a very good monitoring and the efforts include a good cooperation with NGOs.
5. Does the government acknowledge that TIP is a problem in Israel? If not, why not? Yes
6. Which government agencies are involved in anti-trafficking efforts, and which agency has the lead? The Ministry of Justice is the leading agency, as lawyer Rachel Gershuni, the coordinator of the inter-ministerial committee to combat TIP, is issued from this Ministry. Other ministries involved in the anti-trafficking efforts are: The Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Internal Security (the Police and Immigration unit are under this ministry) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mirit Danon, the head of the special council for women’s advancement of the Prime Minister’s office, is also very active in promoting awareness campaigns and including trainings and campaigns for the Ministry of Education. However, this type of activity has only begun recently and continues at a very slow pace. NGOs see the potential of her willingness and understand that through education much could be achieved in the short-run as well as the long-run. Hence, we are always happy about such fruitful cooperations when they come. The Ministry of Welfare is also involved in the issue, but only through the state shelter.
a. Please describe any government-run anti-trafficking information or education campaigns that were used during the reporting period and any changes since the previous reporting period. Not yet
b. Please describe what if any specific groups are targeted in these efforts.
7. Does the Government support other programs to prevent trafficking, such as women’s participation in economic decision-making or efforts to keep children in school? No
8. What is the relationship between government officials, NGOs and other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society on the trafficking issue? There is good cooperation.
9. Does the government monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking? Do law enforcement agencies screen for potential trafficking victims along borders? NGO representatives were invited to cooperate with law enforcement personnel and compare our different findings on the issue of trafficking in women's patterns through immigration. This brought forward a great leap in both sides’ understandings of the profile of a potential trafficking victim. Ministry of Interior employees who work at Israel's international airport are aware of guidelines that can point out if someone entering the country is a potential trafficking victim. If such a case arises they also know the appropriate measures to take.
Regarding the border between Israel and Egypt, a meeting of the parliamentary committee for combating trafficking in women, headed by MK Zehava Galon, has taken place together with the parliamentary committee for battling the trafficking of drugs. It was decided that because the border between Israel and Egypt has not been guarded effectively in the past years, regarding the smuggling of drugs and women into the country, MK Zehava Galon, together with the head of the committee for battling trafficking in drugs, will present a thorough plan on this issue to the Prime Minister. So far there has not been much awareness raising on the issue of smuggling victims through the border between Israel and Egypt to the law enforcing agencies working at the relevant area.
10. Describe the mechanism and effectiveness of coordination and communication between various agencies, internal, international and multilateral on trafficking-related matters, including both permanent offices and working groups or task forces. Building an array of traffic victims identification- Today there is no built-in structure to identify victims of trafficking. A questionnaire was prepared by the immigration police. It is given to women who were caught staying illegally in the country, for them to answer. By answering the questions on the questionnaire (which is available in different languages) a person could be identified as a trafficking victim. However, the people who are supposed to complete the questionnaire usually do not cooperate for lack of understanding. Hence, the matter remained unknown. Nowadays NGO representatives are invited to identify whether someone is a trafficking victim. According to the present procedure, women suspected to be victims are directly sent to the shelter, not to the detention facilities.
11. Does the government have a public corruption task force? Yes, but it is not clear if it addresses the issue of trafficking.
12. Does the government have a national plan of action to address trafficking in persons? Yes. The Task Force for the Action Plan is still working on the issue and will deliver its propositions during the following months.
a. If so, which agencies were involved in developing it? Representatives of the relevant ministries and NGOs. Were NGOs consulted in the process? Yes
b. What steps has the government taken to disseminate the action plan?
Not yet relevant
INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS
13. Please provide the name (or number) of current anti-trafficking laws, and dates of their enactment and/or amendment. Please include a full inventory of trafficking laws, including non-criminal statutes that allow for civil penalties, such as civil forfeiture laws and laws against illegal debt. Please see Index 1
a. Do the laws cover both internal and external (transnational) forms of trafficking? The law covers many aspects of trafficking. Unfortunately, the issue of local prostitution is not very clear and not much is done with respect to local women.
b. If not, under what other laws can traffickers be prosecuted? Are other laws being used in trafficking cases? Money laundering law, organized crime law. Traffickers can be put on trial also for rape, threatening, involuntary imprisonment, murder (when relevant), money laundering or also trafficking in drugs.
c. Are these laws, taken together, adequate to address the problem in Israel? The law regarding trafficking is very new; hence we do not yet know what time will bring.
14. Please provide statistics on investigation, prosecutions, convictions and sentences for trafficking, including labor trafficking. The information will be available in March 2007.
a. What are the prescribed penalties for trafficking for labor exploitation?
b. What penalties are imposed?
c. Please include details on plea bargains and fines, if relevant and available.
d. Is criminal punishment – i.e. jail time – prescribed to employers or labor agents who confiscate workers’ passports or travel documents, switch contracts without the worker’s consent as a means to keep the worker in a state of service, or withhold payment of salaries as means of keeping the worker in a state of service?
e. Were there any convictions for these offenses and if so what punishments were imposed?
f. Are traffickers serving the time sentenced? If not, why not? Traffickers found guilty of the crime serve a sentence of between 4-16 years in jail. However, for good behavior some traffickers can reduce their time in jail by a third.
15. What are the penalties for trafficking people for sexual exploitation? Please see Index 1
a. What are the prescribed penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault? Please see index 1
b. How to they compare to the prescribed and imposed penalties for crimes of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation? It is quite difficult for us to compare, for two reasons. One is that we do not work in the field of sexual assaults. The second is that each case is very unique in characteristics. Hence, some trials will end with greater penalties for traffickers, whereas in other cases a person found guilty of sexual assault (for example, of a daughter by her father or guardian) will be sentenced with greater penalties.
c. Is prostitution legalized or decriminalized? Please provide specifics of which activities are criminalized and which are not. In Israel prostitution is neither legalized nor criminalized. The laws in Israel follow and implement the abolitionist system which was introduced in the UN convention of 1949 against trafficking in persons and the exploitation of others for prostitution. Persons prostituting themselves are not considered criminals. All activities relating to the prostitution of others (like managing and hiring a place for prostitution, advertising a place for prostitution, pimping, exploiting a prostituted person, living off the profits of a prostituted person, etc) are criminal activities.
d. Is there any information or reports of who is behind the trafficking? Yes, it could be either be freelance operators, small crime groups or large local and international organized crime groups.
e. What if any business (travel agencies, marriage brokers, etc.) are used as fronts for traffickers? Sometimes traffickers can use the front of travel agencies, fictional marriages firms or reunion of family members.
f. Were any government officials involved? We do not know.
g. Are there any reports of where profits from trafficking are being channeled? (Terrorist organizations, banks, etc.) No report was done on the subject linking prostitution with the terrorist organizations, Drug dealers, and trafficking of weapons. However, there are specialists in the Police and in Criminology faculties who are well aware of the situation.
16. Does the government actively investigate cases of trafficking? (Again, we are not asking about smuggling cases.) Yes
a. Does the government uses active investigative techniques in trafficking investigations? More so in Central Israel and much less in the North of the country. We have almost no information of the proceedings in the South of Israel
b. To the extent possible under domestic law, are techniques such as electronic surveillance, undercover operations and mitigated punishment or immunity for cooperating suspects used by the government?
c. Does the criminal procedure code or other laws prohibit the police from engaging in covert operations?
17. Does the government provide any specialized training for government officials, including law enforcement officials, in how to recognize, investigate and prosecute instances of trafficking? Yes.
18. Does the government extradite persons who are charged with trafficking in other countries? Please provide numbers. Yes. There were 4 extraditions to Israel from the Czech Republic and from Ukraine.
a. Does the government extradite its own nationals charged with such offenses? No
b. If not, is the government prohibited by law from extraditing its own nationals? No
c. If so, are those laws being modified to permit the extradition of its own nationals? Not that we know of.
19. Is there any evidence of government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking, on a local or institutional level?
a. If so, please provide details, including any prosecutions, convictions and sentences.
We are aware of only one case that was published in the media on February 21, 2007. An article by Ami Ben David in the Ma'ariv daily newspaper stated: "A police officer in the Immigration Police, formerly an officer in the Police Unit that detects national and international crime organizations, was arrested. Officer Tiran Zalai was accused of 'crossing the lines' and working with the criminal organization Hariri-Itam from Jaljulia. In addition to him, one more policeman and eight persons were arrested, some of them suspected in being high levels of the criminal organization. According to the suspicion, Officer Zalai is suspected in relation to 14 cases of severe crime when he was operating as an officer in the Police Unit for investigating criminal organizations, which include: passing intelligence information, giving information on investigations, alerting before police raids on brothels, receiving 'protection money' from brothels, including receiving sexual bribes and money." We have not yet verified the information as it was released only today.
b. If any government officials were involved in trafficking, what steps did the government take to end such participation?
20. Is there any sex tourism problem in Israel? If so, please provide details. Not that we know of.
21. Has the government signed ratified and/or taken steps to implement the following international instruments?
a. ILO Convention 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Yes
b. ILO Convention 29 and 105 on Forced or Compulsory Labor We do not have knowledge of this, as it is not relevant to our specific area of work.
c. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. Yes
d. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Conventional Against Transnational Organized Crime. Yes.
PROTECTION AND ASSITANCE TO VICTIMS
22. Please report on government assistance to victims, such as providing temporary to permanent residency status, relief from deportation, shelter, and access to legal, medical and psychological services.
a. Are the services and facilities offered dedicated to helping victims of trafficking? Yes
b. Are all victims of trafficking are eligible? Only international trafficking for prostitution purposes
c. What is the number of victims placed in these facilities and/or using these services? 40 are placed in the shelter. 19 victims of international trafficking are taken care of by special programs run by the NGOs.
23. Does the government provide funding or other forms of support to foreign or domestic NGOs for services to victims? No If so, please provides details.
24. Do law enforcement and social service personnel have a formal system of identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contacts? Semi-formal training that needs improvement.
25. Is there a referral process in place, when appropriate, to transfer victims detained, arrested or placed in protective custody by law enforcement authorities to NGOs that provide short- or long-term care? No. The victims that are in the care of the NGOs were not referred there by a referral process
26. How are victims treated by the government? All victims of international trafficking for prostitution purposes are treated as victims.
a. Are the rights of victims respected, or are victims treated as criminals? Victims' rights are usually respected.
b. Are victims detained, jailed or deported? If a victim is detected the authorities call the NGOs and with their recommendation the victim is given the choice to enter the shelter for a residence period of two weeks to see if she wants to file complaint against her traffickers or to be deported.
c. If detained or jailed, for how long? If the victim decides to be deported she is detained in a special center until deportation which takes place within two weeks at the most.
d. Are victims fined? No
e. Are victims prosecuted for violations of other laws, such as those governing immigration or prosecution? No
27. Does the government encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking? Yes.
28. May victims file civil suits or seek legal action against the traffickers? Yes. Some cases are still in the process.
a. If so, are they successful? Please provide specifics.
b. Does anyone impede the victims’ access to such legal redress? No
29. If a victim is a material witness in a court case against a former employer, is the victim permitted to obtain other employment or to leave the country pending trial proceedings? International trafficking victims for prostitution purposes who are witnesses can stay in the shelter until the trial is over and an additional year.
30. Is there a victim restitution program? Not that we know of.
31. What kind of protection does the government provide for victims and witnesses? Shelter for international trafficking victims for prostitution purposes.
a. Does the government provide these protections in practice?
b. What type of shelter or services does the government provide? The shelter for international trafficking victims for prostitution purposes provides protection and there are processes to evaluate dangerous situations so that victims who have witnessed can remain in Israel (very few cases). There is no specific program to protect witnesses
c. Does the government provide shelter or housing benefits to victims or other resources to aid the victims in rebuilding their lives? No
d. Where are child victims placed? (e.g. in shelters, foster-care, juvenile justice detention centers, or other situations) In 2006 no child victims were found.
32. Does the government provide any specialized training for government officials in recognizing trafficking? yes
a. Does the government provide any specialized training in the provision of assistance to trafficked victims, including the special needs of trafficked children? Yes, but only to those victims who are in the government shelter. The victims outside the shelter are helped only by the NGOs. There are no trafficked children that we are aware of.
33. Does the government provide training or protections and assistance to its embassies and consulates in foreign countries that are destination or transit countries? Yes
a. Does the government urge those embassies and consulates to develop ongoing relationships with NGOs that serve trafficked victims? Yes
34. Does the government provide assistance, such as medial aid, shelter or financial help, to its repatriated nationals (if any) who are victims of trafficking? Israel is mainly a destination country. In 2006 there was known only one case of Israeli trafficking victims for prostitution purposes. We have no knowledge about the victim (if she returned or received any help).
35. Which international organizations or NGOs work with trafficking victims in Israel? The local NGOs that work with trafficking victims for prostitution purposes are: Machon Toda'a--Awareness Center, which is the representative of the INGO International Abolitionist Federation; Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, which also works with trafficking victims who are migrant workers for purposes other than the sex industry.
a. What type of services do they provide? Isha L'Isha and Hotline for Migrant Workers operate a hotline for trafficking victims in the framework of their Choosing Freedom project; Machon Toda'a has been working since 2005 with foreign trafficking victims as well as local trafficking victims on the basis of a individual program for each victim based on the model of SAGE (the Norma Hotaling project in Israel) to integrate them into society.
b. What sort of cooperation do they receive from local authorities? There is good cooperation with local authorities regarding international trafficking victims for prostitution purposes. Legal assistance and medical assistance for foreign victims who have an A/5 visa or are working are provided. In 2006, there was not yet any cooperation from local authorities regarding internal trafficking victims. Machon Toda'a is working with local authorities to process a national plan for this purpose.
Both Isha L'Isha and Machon Toda'a see a big problem with the local trafficking for prostitution purposes, because while the number of foreign trafficking victims was reduced drastically (only 20 known cases entered Israeli borders in 2006), the infrastructure of the sex industry remains unaltered. Nowadays, there is no governmental agency working on the issue of local prostitution. These victims do not have a place to turn to if they wish to escape the prostitution cycle, such as the shelter for foreign trafficking victims.
Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons
(Legislative Amendments) Law, 5766 - 2006
1. Amendment of the Penal Law
In the Penal Law, 5737 - 1977 –
(1) The end of section 15(b), beginning with the word "bigamy", shall be replaced by "one of these, and it is committed by a person who was a citizen of Israel at the time of the commission of the offense:
(1) bigamy according to section 176;
(2) an offense according to Article 10 of Chapter 8 that was committed on, or in connection with, a minor;
(3) conveying a person beyond the boundaries of the State according to section 370;
(4) Instigating a person to leave the State for purposes of prostitution or slavery according to section 376B;
(5) trafficking in persons according to section 377A.
(2) Section 203A is hereby repealed;
(3) In section 203B, , "202, 203 or 203A" shall be replaced by "202 or 203";
(4) In section 368D(h), the definition "offense" shall be replaced by ""offense" – one of these:
(1) prostitution and obscenity offense according to sections 199, 201, 202, 203, 203B, 203C, 205A and 214(B1);
(2) an offense of endangering life and health according to section 337;
(3) a sexual offense according to sections 345, 346, 347, 347A, 348 and 351;
(4) an offense of abandonment or neglect according to sections 361 and 362;
(5) an offense of assault or abuse according to sections 368B and 368C;
(6) an offence of trafficking in persons according to section 377A";
(5) In section 370 –
(a) The headnote shall be replaced by "Conveying a Person Beyond the Boundaries of the State";
(b) after "beyond the boundaries of the State" shall be inserted "in which the said person is staying";
(c) "imprisonment for twenty years" shall be replaced by "ten years imprisonment ";
(6) In section 374 –
(a) in the headnote, "or a sexual offense" shall be replaced by "Grievous";
(b) "grievous, to prohibited sexual contact or a life of prostitution" shall be replaced by "grievous";
(7) After section 374 shall be added:
"374A. Abducting for Purposes of Trafficking in Persons
One who abducts a person for one of the purposes set forth in section 377A(a) or in order to place the person in one of the dangers set forth in the said section shall be liable to twenty years imprisonment ."
(8) After section 375 shall be added:
"375A. Holding a Person under Conditions of Slavery
(a) Anyone holding a person under conditions of slavery for the purposes of work or services, including sex services - is liable to sixteen years imprisonment.
(b) Where an offense according to subsection (a) is committed against a minor, the offender is liable to twenty years imprisonment.
(c) In this article, "slavery" means a situation under which powers generally exercised towards property are exercised over a person; in this matter, substantive control over the life of a person or denial of his liberty shall be deemed use of powers as stated."
(9) Section 376 shall be replaced by the following:
"376. Forced Labor
Anyone who unlawfully forces a person to work, by using force or other means of pressure or by threat of one of these, or by consent elicited by means of fraud, whether or not for consideration, shall be liable to seven years imprisonment."
(10) In section 376A, "imprisonment for one year" shall be replaced by " three years imprisonment ; a person who so acts for one of the purposes set forth in section 377A(a) or by so doing places the person in one of the dangers set forth in the said section shall be liable to five years imprisonment";
(11) After section 376A shall be added:
376B Causing a Person to Leave A State for Purposes of Prostitution or Slavery
(a) Anyone who causes another person to leave the State in which he lives for purposes of engaging the person in prostitution or holding that person under conditions of slavery shall be liable to ten years imprisonment;
(b) Where an offense according to subsection (a) is committed against a minor, the offender is liable to fifteen years imprisonment."
(12) After section 377, before the heading "Article 8: Assault" shall be inserted:
377A. Trafficking in Persons
Anyone who carries on a transaction in a person for one of the following purposes or in so acting places the person in danger of one of the following, shall be liable to sixteen years imprisonment:
(1) removing an organ from the person's body;
(2) giving birth to a child and taking the child away;
(3) subjecting the person to slavery;
(4) subjecting the person to forced labor;
(5) instigating the person to commit an act of prostitution;
(6) instigating the person to take part in an obscene publication or obscene display;
(7) committing a sexual offense against the person.
(b) Where an offense according to subsection (a) is committed against a minor, the offender is liable to twenty years imprisonment.
(c) The middleman in trafficking in a person as stated in subsection (a), whether or not for consideration, shall be considered as the trafficker of the said person.
(d) In this section, "transaction in a person" means selling or buying a person or carrying out another transaction in a person, whether or not for consideration.
377B. Minimal Punishment for the Offense of Holding a Person under Conditions of Slavery and Trafficking in Persons
(a) Where a person is convicted of an offense according to section 375A or 377A, the sentence imposed shall not be less than one-quarter of the maximum sentence set forth for the said offense, unless the court has decided, for special reasons that shall be recorded, to impose a more lenient sentence.
(b) A sentence of imprisonment according to subsection (a) shall not be wholly suspended, unless there are no special reasons.
377C. Obligation to Detail Reasons for not Awarding a Compensation
Where a person is convicted of an offense according to section 375A or 377A, and the court does not award compensatory damages according to section 77, the court shall specify in its judgment the reasons for the failure to order compensation as stated.
(a) In this section and in section 377E –
"Combating Criminal Organizations Law" means the Combating Criminal Organizations Law, 5763 – 2003 ;
"victim of an offense" means a person who is directly injured by an offense and a family member of a person who died as a result of the offense;
"offense" means the offense of holding under conditions of slavery according to section 375A and the offense of trafficking in persons according to section 377A;
"property" and "property related to an offense" have the same meaning as in the Combating Criminal Organizations Law.
(b) The provisions of sections 5 to 33 of the Combating Criminal Organizations Law, except for sections 8, 14(2) and 31 of the said law, shall apply to the forfeiture of property related to an offense, as the case may be and mutatis mutandis.
(c) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b), property that is subject to forfeiture according to the provisions of this part and also according to the provisions of the Combating Criminal Organizations Law or the Prohibition of Money Laundering Law, 5760 – 2000, shall be forfeited according to the provisions of this Law, unless there are special reasons justifying that the forfeiture of the property not be carried out according to the provisions of this part.
(d) The Minister of Justice, with the approval of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset, shall promulgate in regulations provisions regarding procedural rules in the matter of an application for a forfeiture order in a criminal or civil proceeding, proceedings for the hearing of objections to the forfeiture, application for steps to safeguard property, temporary relief, rehearing, appeal, and also provisions on the ways to effectuate the forfeiture, administer the assets and give notice to persons claiming right in the property.
377E. Special Fund
(a) The decision of the court on forfeiture according to section 377D shall serve as a basis for the Administrator General to seize the forfeited property; property that has been forfeited, or the consideration thereof, shall be transferred to the Administrator General and deposited by him in a special fund that shall be administered in accordance with the regulations that shall be promulgated according to subsection (d) (in this section – the Fund).
(b) A fine imposed by the court for an offense shall be deposited in the Fund.
(c) Where a victim of an offense presents, to an entity determined by the Minister of Justice for this purpose, a judgment for compensation and shows that he has no reasonable possibility to realize all or part of the judgment, according to any law, the victim of the offense shall be paid from the Fund the compensation set forth in the judgment that has not been paid, all or part thereof; for the purposes of this section, "judgment" means a judgment that may no longer be appealed.
(d) The Minister of Justice, with the approval of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset, shall promulgate in regulations the methods of administering the Fund, the use to be made of the Fund’s assets, and the manner of their distribution for these purposes:
(1) rehabilitation, treatment, and protection of victims of an offense; for this purpose, there shall be allocated annually an amount not less that one half of the Fund’s assets in one year;
(2) payment of compensation awarded in a judgment to a victim of an offense, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c);
(3) prevention of the commission of an offense;
(4) carrying out the functions of law enforcement authorities in enforcing the provisions of this Law in respect to an offense."
(13) In section 431, at the beginning, "one year imprisonment" shall be replaced by "three years imprisonment".
2. Amendment of Procedure (Interrogation of Witnesses) Law
In the Amendment of Procedure (Examination of Witnesses) Law, 5718 – 1957 –
(1) In section 2B –
(a) In every place, the words "for the purpose of prostitution" shall be deleted;
(b) In subsection (e), the definition of "offense of trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution" shall be replaced by:
" "offense of trafficking in persons" - the offense of trafficking in persons for one of the purposes set forth in paragraphs (5) to (7) in section 377A(a) of the Penal Law or which action places the person in one of the dangers set forth in the said paragraphs";
(2) In section 2C(c), the words "for the purpose of prostitution" shall be deleted;
(3) In the Schedule, in paragraph (a), the word "203A," shall be deleted, and after "351(a), (b), (c)(1) an (c)(2) shall be inserted "and the offense of trafficking in persons according to section 377A(a)(5)".
3. Amendment of the Legal Aid Law
In the Legal Aid Law, 5732 - 1972 (hereafter – the Legal Aid Law), in the Schedule, in paragraph 1, "section 203A" shall be replaced by "section 377A(a)(5)".
4. Legal Aid Law – Temporary Order
During the period from the date of publication of this law to 15 Elul 5768 (15 September 2008), paragraph 1 in the First Schedule to the Legal Aid Law shall be read in the wording of section 3 of this Law, as if instead of "section 377A(a)(5)" is stated "section 375A or 377A(a)".
5. Amendment of the Criminal Procedure Law [Consolidated Version], 5742 – 1982 –
(1) In section 62A(a), in the definition of "sexual offense or offense of violence", the word "203A," shall be deleted, and after "377 under aggravated circumstances" shall be inserted "offense of trafficking in persons according to section 377A(a)(5),";
(2) In section 117(b), "according to section 203A" shall be replaced by "according to section 377A".
6. Amendment of the Courts Law
In the Courts Law [Consolidated Version], 5744 – 1984 –
(1) In section 68(b), after paragraph (8), shall be inserted:
"(9) For purpose of protecting the matter of a complainant or a victim of an offense according to section 377A of the Penal Law, 5737 – 1977. "
(2) In section 70(c), "sections 345 to 358, section 360 and sections 208 to 214" shall be replaced by "sections 208, 214, 345 to 352 and 377A".
7. Amendment of the Legal Assistance between States Law
In the Legal Assistance between States Law, 5758 – 1998, in the Second Schedule –
(1) In paragraph C2, at the beginning, the words "5737 – 1977" shall be deleted;
(2) After paragraph i shall be added:
"j. Offenses according to sections 375A and 377A of the Penal Law."
8. Amendment of the Prohibition of Money Laundering Law
In the Prohibition of Money Laundering Law, 5760 – 2000, in paragraph (3) of the First Schedule, the word "203A," shall be deleted.
9. Amendment of the Rights of Victims of an Offense Law
In the Rights of Victims of an Offense Law, 5761 – 2001 -
(1) In the First Schedule, in the part under the heading "Offenses in the Penal Law"–
(a) In paragraph 2, the word "203A," shall be deleted;
(b) In paragraph 7, "375, 376 and 377" shall be replaced by "374A, 375, 375A, 376, 376B, 377 and 377A";
(2) In part 1, paragraph 6 of the First Schedule A, "in paragraph 7, except according to section 376" shall be replaced by "in paragraph 7".
10. Amendment of the Restriction on Use of a Place for Purposes of Preventing Commission of Offenses Law
In the Restriction on Use of a Place for Purposes of Preventing Commission of Offenses Law, 5765 – 2005, in section 1, in the definition "offense," in paragraph (3), "to engage in prostitution according to section 203A" shall be replaced by "according to section 377A(a)(5)".
Subject of discussion: Defending Victims of Trafficking - medical treatment for women who stay outside the shelter, and finding an arrangement for women who stay in the shelter with their children
In the framework of discussions by the team charged with establishing a national program to fight against trafficking in women for the sex industry, regarding the subject of defending the trafficking victims, we would like to raise the position of Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center and the Hotline for Foreign Workers. Together, and with The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, these two organizations run a project called Choosing Freedom", which includes an emergency hotline for trafficking victims. The organizations share two subjects: providing medical treatment to trafficking victims who are not in the Ma'agan government shelter and finding an arrangement which can provide a proper solution for children who stay in the shelter.
Medical treatment for women who stay out of the shelter
In the framework of the NGO Choosing Freedom project, there are currently 14 trafficking victims who do not stay in the shelter for various reasons. Some are not in the shelter because they have children living with them, others are drug addicts, arrived in Israel before the establishment of the shelter, or live with a partner. These women have been provided with medical assistance by the Choosing Freedom project. They have various medical problems and require medical aid in genecology, psychiatry, oncology, et cetera. It would be appropriate for these women to receive medical aid as traffic victims, regardless of whether they reside in the shelter or not. Currently, victims of trafficking who do not stay in the shelter, even if they have visas to be in Israel, are not entitled to medical treatment unless they work and their employer has provided them with medical insurance. The visa itself does not provide the privilege of the "Health Basket", but allows work permission, and according to the obligations of the employer, the woman should be provided with medical coverage. Without the mentioned conditions the victims remain without any medical care, even when suffering from minor ailments such as a cold. According to our experience, many of the employers do not care about colds or about HIV problems. Women who try to claim their rights to medical treatment usually get fired.
Our proposed solutions for this problem are:
• Changing the visa given to trafficking victims, so that it will provide the woman with medical rights (like the a/5 visa). Thus victims will not be dependent upon their employers for medical treatment.
• Making an arrangement with HMOs or hospitals in Israel for medical care for trafficking victims. Thus the women could get medical treatment near their residence.
• Using the resources of the state shelter--which is not operating at full capacity - to expand the group of women in its care, so that all trafficking victims are able to get medical aid whether or not they are residents in the shelter.
Presently the project has to find solutions for various medical treatments, with the help of NGOs who work in Israel, such as Physicians for Human Rights, and seeking various institutes that can assist in this subject. Healthcare and available medical treatment is a basic right in the State of Israel, which derives from the value of human life. It is unreasonable that this issue will not be solved and dismissed as insignificant. We talk of cases which cannot be postponed, and no excuse is acceptable when life is at stake.
Children in the Ma'agan shelter
Presently there are six children residing in the shelter, aged 1-3 approximately. They were all born in Israel to Israeli fathers. The shelter, with all its good will, is not suitable for the absorption of children. There is no kindergarten there nor any space suitable for groups of children. There are no pedagogy professionals on site who are trained for taking care of preschoolers. Furthermore, no arrangements exist with local kindergartens or daycare centers to take care of the children during the day.
The primary purpose of staying in the shelter is rehabilitation. There is no doubt that raising her child can definitely assist the woman to regain her strength. Yet the fact that the women need to remain in the shelter all day with their children hinders them from integrating into the job force, saving money for her and her children's future, and recognizing their abilities as breadwinners. Last year a trafficking victim staying in a shelter applied through legal aid for a year extension to her visa, claiming that the year which followed her testimony was totally dedicated to taking care of her children. She felt that she had missed any opportunities to work or take time for her rehabilitation. Her application was denied.
The issue should be examined also from the child's point of view. There is no doubt that the child belongs with his or her mother. However, the shelter environment is not adjusted for preschoolers, both for safety reasons and the variety of activities it can offer. During the past year, the Choosing Freedom project has encountered several traffic victims caring for their children, who requested a place in the shelter. However, their requests could not been granted due to the fact that the shelter has no resources for additional children. The shelter's doors would have been opened if the shelter had the capacity for children's absorption or if the women had no children to take care of.
According to our perspective, a system dedicated to taking care of women should take into account a situation where children might be added to the equation. As known, shelters for battered women include facilities to care for children within the shelter or the children are sent to day care centers such as those run by the WIZO organization, and the mothers are not required to pay. In addition, the budget for these children exceeds the budget for the women. According to the instructions of the Ministry of Welfare, shelters for battered women are not ready to absorb trafficking victims who stay in Israel without visas nor to provide medical insurance for them. Our unfortunate experience indicates that many trafficking victims who give birth to children in Israel have experience with a violent or abusive mate. In this situation if the woman wants to escape from him, she loses out both ways. She cannot be absorbed in the shelter for trafficking victims nor in a shelter for battered women. This situation is unbearable, and it is obvious that rehabilitation should be provided for women who take care of children as well.
Reality forces us to make changes and find solutions which were not taken into consideration when the shelter was established. Solutions must be provided both for traffic victims who take care of children while trying to rehabilitate themselves and for their children who need proper environments.
Rita Chaikin, Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator, Isha L'Isha–Haifa Feminist Center
Adi Willinger, Lawyer, Hotline for Migrant Workers
1. Forced Marriages:
Document issued by Isha L'Isha regarding the issue of forced marriages:
Recently, the Ministry of the Interior and the police located several isolated instances of procurers, or suspected procurers, who filed requests for family reunification with women from the former Soviet Union, in which it is suspected that the purpose is to bring them to Israel for prostitution. These suspicions arise in cases with problematic circumstances, including very short or almost non-existent relationships, a very significant age difference, past arrests for prostitution/procuring, etc.
The State of Israel is aware of approximately 4-5 such cases which raise suspicions of forced marriages for the purpose of prostitution. As mentioned above, generally, these cases involved suspicions regarding the true nature of requests by Israelis from the former Soviet Union for visas for their alleged wives.
In suspicious cases, the Ministry of the Interior held specific hearings during which the Israeli requesting party was interrogated in order to learn about the nature of the relations and the true nature of the request. Simultaneously, the Israeli consul in the women's country of origin held hearings for the women. In this way, the information could be correlated and conclusions reached.
These cases require careful handling in order to distinguish between fictitious and bona fide marriages, especially in view of the fact that the right to marry is viewed as a basic human right. In addition, on a practical level, it is difficult to collect persuasive evidence to prove the nature of the relationship.
In one known case (regarding which a petition was filed to the Supreme Court by the husband - HCJ 2290/06, A. K. v. the Ministry of the Interior), it was decided to allow the woman (who was previously removed from Israel, as she was an illegal entrant who had engaged in prostitution) a temporary visa to enter Israel to be with her husband (who, by his own admission in the hearing, ran a place that was used routinely for the purpose of prostitution), and to hold a joint hearing for the couple to decide as to the future of their request. In view of this concession, for the present the husband's court petition was cancelled.
Another petition was filed to the Supreme Court regarding the family reunification of an Israeli citizen and a citizen of Uzbekistan, after their request was denied. The denial of the request by Israeli authorities was a result of the vigilance of the Israeli consul in Uzbekistan who suspected the marriage was a guise for trafficking. However, as there was no supporting evidence, it was not possible to prove the suspicion and the request was eventually approved.
Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center, an NGO working in Haifa, the northern part of Israel, reported encountering about 15-20 cases of forced marriage, e.g., cases where the procurer brought the woman under the pretence of marriage, to engage in prostitution. This NGO is of the opinion that there are three categories which fit this description, but it is doubtful if all these categories can be classified as forced marriage for the purpose of trafficking:
1. The woman is brought to Israel to work in prostitution, entering Israel through the Entry to Israel Law, 1952, that allows the non-Jewish spouse of a Jewish man of Israeli citizenship to immigrate to Israel. The woman is trafficked into prostitution; works in a brothel until she pays back her "debt".
2. "Mail-order brides" – Women from poor countries who marry Israeli men, often disabled, who are interested in them as service providers. The women consent in the hopes that this will enable them to break the cycle of poverty. This is not strictly "forced marriage" and it is doubtful if it can be classified as trafficking, although there are clear inequalities between the partners. These cases raise difficult questions relating to the degree of choice in relations in which one party marries because of his/her low economic status.
3. A relationship between a former trafficking victim, who has no legal status in Israel, and an Israeli citizen. In many cases Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center found that the husband eventually becomes violent and the woman finds herself and her children in a very problematic situation. This too, is not strictly "forced marriage", as detailed above.
Nowadays, as the battle against trafficking has become part of Israel's agenda, there is great progress and the span of the phenomena has decreased. In 2004, a state-run shelter for trafficking victims - the first and to date, only, of its kind - was established in Israel. With time the shelter's staff became more attentive and aware of the unique needs of the women staying in it. Currently, the shelter accepts not only women who testify in trafficking cases, but also women who are reluctant to do so, as the purpose of the shelter is to provide the victims with initial assistance. Afterwards the women are given a chance to decide by themselves whether they are willing to cooperate with the authorities. Today's procedure states that the woman should be directly sent to the shelter, upon identification by the Immigration Police as a trafficking victim, and therefore not be transferred to an imprisonment facility.
In addition, victims of trafficking have begun to get work-visas during the period of their court testimony, and they may ask for a prolongation of the visa for up to a year after they finish giving their testimony. Legal assistance is provided by the State for free, and it includes a civil prosecution against the trafficker for personal distress and for not paying all his debts to the woman.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has to provide the women in the shelter with medical insurance. Sometimes we manage to get free medical aid also for women who do not stay at the shelter, but remained in Israel for humanitarian reasons.