[Stop-traffic] News/Israel: Israel lets sex slave crimes go unpunished-Amnesty

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Israel: Israel lets sex slave crimes go unpunished-Amnesty
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Aug 29 2000 - 09:11:18 EDT


MAY 18 2000

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.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at <<morhant@igc.org>>.

Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health
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Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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