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Fighting Sex Trafficking in Israel

By September 2, 2016December 16th, 2019Internship Grant Program, Israel, JIJ
Hello! My name is Josue Casanova and I interned with the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ). The first project I did with JIJ was researching how Hamas is using children for child labor and terrorism. 

The second project that I worked on was helping to fight sex trafficking in Israel.  (Read about Josue’s first project here.) To begin, I interviewed “Hadassah,” a girl who used to be involved with prostitution and stripping. When Hadassah was younger she started working as a clown to entertain kids. After her boss raped her, she quit and started working in security. Then her security boss started sexually exploiting her, until she was an “unofficial” prostitute. She joined a stripping agency for protection, but ended up being abused by the men she stripped for and raped by her boss. When she went to the police they blamed it on her, saying, “Well, you asked for it.” Prostitution is currently legal in Israel, and many people think that it is just an ordinary job, like working at a grocery store. Hadassah is working to change that. She said that while she was working as a stripper, “I heard people who are against it and [she would say], ‘Leave us alone, we want to work. We’re doing fine.’ And when you get out…you realize that you’re not fine. You need help…You’re not free. You’re a slave. A sex slave.”

JIJ is advocating in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) for a law that would make prostitution illegal, and Hadassah is helping them do it. She’s telling her story to people in order to expose prostitution and stripping for what it really is—slavery, whether physical or psychological—and she’s even helping with the anti-prostitution law itself. Hadassah told JIJ that a lot of the sexual abuse and violence inherent in prostitution is also inherent in other sexual “businesses” like stripping and massage parlors. She pointed out that the proposed anti-prostitution law must include these kinds of sexual “businesses” or else the businesses could get around the law by just having the girls dance or give a massage before they have sex with the customers. By conducting, recording, and now transcribing my interview with Hadassah, I am helping advocate for this law by giving JIJ a written, credible source they can cite.

This internship has been a gift because it has opened my eyes to a lot of things and allowed me to meet people like Hadassah. Please pray for Hadassah and JIJ, that they convince the Knesset to pass this law. Pray for the people who are being used by the sexually exploitive systems masquerading as “businesses.” Pray for wisdom and justice in Israel.