In a busy shopping center in Tel Aviv, women, posing like mannequins, were put on display featuring hefty price-tags. Some were made up to look like they had suffered from a violent attack, all to stress the realness and effects of human trafficking and illegal prostitution in Israel.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 women residing in Israel have been smuggled into the country with the sole purpose of acting as sex slaves. Many of these women are perpetually raped and beaten, and not many discuss it for fear of repercussions.
The display put on by a non-profit organization and called “Women to Go” stopped shoppers in their tracks. Campaigner Ori Keider explained:
“What we see here today is an example of what’s going on in houses and basements and yards in this city, but today we’re showing it in the center of this shopping mall so people can understand, they cannot look away.”
Shoppers were asked to sign a petition demanding that people who pay for sex be prosecuted.
Time and time again, the women, who are almost always the victims in these situations, are persecuted while the men paying for their services go unpunished.
The signatures collected during this protest will be submitted to the Minister of Justice in an effort to put together a bill that will criminalize those who solicit sexual services. Many believe that a law like this could eradicate the phenomenon of trafficking in women.
However, despite its warm-and-fuzziness, it’s hard to say if a law like this one will make even a small dent in the Israeli sex trade. It’s possible that it could hurt more then it could help. But however, I think public awareness is an excellent step in the right direction, even if some claim otherwise. Awareness and education is a powerful tool, as we’ve seen them play out time after time in various instances of women’s history (suffrage, sexual revolution, etc).
I think that any activism that grabs the attention of a large group of people is, at times, more effective than the passing of laws that are continually broken.