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The Law Criminalizing the Purchase of Sexual Services – a Critical Discussion Picture: Backs of

February 27, 2019

Event Poster (Hebrew)


Petra Östergren, Lund University, Sweden

Dr. Hila Shamir, Tel Aviv University, TraffLab PI

Dr. Hagit Lernau, Deputy to the National Public Defender

Racheli Tal-Hadar, Social Worker and Activist

Dr. Nomi Levenkron, Yezreel Valley College, TraffLab Research Fellow

Ayellet Ben Ner, Activist, Scarlet - Organization of Working Women

Nathalie Baruch, Ben-Gurion University and the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow

Dr. Nily Gorin, Hebrew University and “Achoti" (My Sister) - For Women in Israel

Goldie, Hod, Katie, Gali, Jess - Activists,

Scarlet - Organization of Working Women

Sivan Levy - Activist, Queer Feminist



On 31 December 2018, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) passed the Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Law (Temporary Order and Amendment of Legislation) 5779-2018 (End Demand Law) and became the tenth country in the world to join the controversial regulatory experiment of criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. The law is based on the perception that prostitution constitutes violence against women and that anyone involved other than the women engaged in prostitution is committing a criminal offense. The law was enacted after a struggle that took place over many years by a coalition of feminist organizations based on the approach that women engaged in prostitution are “survivors” of patriarchal violence, and that purchasing sexual services is negative and pathological behavior. In the months preceding the legislation, sex workers began, for the first time in Israel, to organize and operate as a group to voice their opposition to the legislation. The workers established an organization “Argaman [“Scarlet” in English] – Organization of Working Women.” In doing so, they joined sex workers' organizations from around the world who oppose the deepening of criminalization of the sex industry and demand promotion of the rights of sex workers. Like many of these organizations, Scarlet also adopted the color red and red umbrellas as symbols of their struggle to promote the rights of sex workers. The workers in the new organization claim that the law was enacted without consulting them and that the law will harm their rights and personal safety and security, expose them to violence and police harassment, reduce their bargaining power with their customers, and deepen the heavy stigma which accompanies work in the sex industry. As part of the Organization, the workers proclaimed a demand that nothing be imposed on them without their input (“nothing about us without us”). The sex workers demanded to be heard by decision makers and to take part in the process of designing policy, not as witnesses, but rather as active participants, because they know the situation best and the major impact of the law will be on their lives. The event, organized with sex workers from Scarlet and in which activists from the Organization will participate, will be dedicated to a critical discussion of the Israeli End Demand law and its implications, and seeks to delineate a path for promoting the rights of the sex workers in public policy.

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