05/18: Israel lets sex slave crimes go unpunished-Amnesty

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Subject: 05/18: Israel lets sex slave crimes go unpunished-Amnesty
From: PJS (penelopes@earthlink.net)
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 19:54:22 EDT


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Israel lets sex slave crimes go unpunished-Amnesty

JERUSALEM, May 18 (Reuters) - Israel does not protect the rights of
women and girls who are brought from the former Soviet Union to work
in Israel's sex industry, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

``The Israeli government has failed to take adequate measures to
prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish human rights abuses
committed against trafficked women,'' the London-based human rights
group said in a report on the buying, selling and enslavement of
women in Israel.

The report said hundreds of women a year are kidnapped or lured into
Israel's sex industry, where they are bought and sold, auctioned,
held in debt bondage, imprisoned by their ``owners,'' deprived of
their travel documents, raped and tortured.

It said many are then rounded up in police raids on brothels and
``massage parlors'' to end up in a police lock-up or Israel's Neveh
Tirza women's prison before being forcibly deported.

``Trafficked women who have been subjected to human rights abuses are
effectively treated as criminals by the various Israeli governmental
agencies with which they come into contact, rather than victims,''
the report said.

Israel has laws against sexual harassment, soliciting and pimping,
but slavery and the buying and selling of human beings are not
criminal offences.

In a statement issued in reponse to Amnesty's findings, Minister of
Justice Yossi Beilin denounced the trade in women as ``a ringing slap
in the face to all who believe in a free state in which human rights
are protected.''

``We have to make every attempt through legislation and enforcement
to put a stop to it quickly until it is only a bad memory,'' Beilin
said.

A Justice Ministry official said Israel's State Attorney's office was
working on legislation that would specifically prohibit trade in
human beings.

Police in Israel say they are powerless to stop the flow of
trafficked women until the laws change, but women's groups say
authorities rarely bother prosecuting crimes such as abduction, rape
and battery which are associated with trade in women.

Amnesty said it had been unable to obtain statistics from Israel
relating to the number of criminal investigations opened,
prosecutions or convictions in cases involving abuses against
trafficked women.

It said many of the women, who are illegal aliens, fear they will be
jailed or deported without having an opportunity to apply for asylum
under international law if they file complaints with the police or
testify in court.

It said some women are held in jail without bail for months waiting
to testify against traffickers.

06:21 05-18-00

Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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Penelope Saunders ICQ#22669872


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