What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities in the world. It is estimated that 600,000 – 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide every year.
Human trafficking happens in nearly every corner of the world.
How do people become victims?
Victims of trafficking are typically tricked or forced into sexual or labor exploitation. Desperately seeking an escape from a life of poverty, they are lured by the promise of high paying jobs and safe entry into a foreign country. Upon reaching their destination, they are forced to work in slave-like conditions in prostitution or other forms of involuntary labor.
Trafficking in Israel
Israel is a destination country for human trafficking. Women and children are brought into the country every year to be exploited as modern day slaves.
Rates of human trafficking in Israel are alarmingly high though the exact extent is not known. Nearly all of the trafficking victims in Israel come from the former Soviet Union. Most victims enter the country through Israel‘s border with Egypt. Once in Israel, victims are often sold and resold to pimps and brothel owners who force them to work in slave-like conditions. At every stage in the process, the victims are abused and exploited, often suffering severe beatings, rape and even starvation.
Israel has made limited progress in the fight against human trafficking but more can and must be done. Significant resources must be dedicated to combating trafficking in Israel in the areas of prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Chain of Trafficking
From trafficker to client, the chain of trafficking involves many different people acting in different roles.
Step One: Recruitment
While some victims are kidnapped, most are recruited in their country of origin. Some are recruited personally by individuals, strangers or friends. Others respond to advertisements in the newspapers, promising high paying jobs and safe entry into a different country. Most of these women are living in abject poverty in the former Soviet Union and are desperately seeking an escape and a way to make a better life for themselves and their families. While some of these women are aware that they will be working in prostitution, none are aware of the terms under which they will be living. These women are recruited by or for traffickers, nationals of the FSU with ties to organized crime, who plan to sell these women as commodities to the highest bidder.
Step Two: Transportation
Most victims enter Israel through the border with Egypt. The traffickers arrange for them to be flown to Egypt where their passports are confiscated, preventing their escape. The victims are then transported across the Sinai desert by smugglers who often rape and abuse them along the way. The smugglers are mostly Bedouin tribesman with family relationships on both sides of the border, allowing them to coordinate the transfer of these women along with light weapons and drugs.
Step Three: “Sale” and “Purchase”
Once in the country, women are sold to pimps and brothel owners. Occasionally, a pimp will arrange to “purchase” a particular victim from a specific trafficker. More often, the women will be sold by private auction reminiscent of 19th century slave trade. They will be stripped and inspected and assigned a price tag of between 5,000-10,000 US dollars. Not all pimps and brothel owners have criminal records. Some men and women simply see this as an “industry” with relatively low risks and very high profits.
Step Four: Sexual Exploitation
Victims are transported to brothels and “discreet apartments” throughout the country. Pimps and brothel owners exploit the victims by forcing them to receive 10-15 clients per day on average, often without any pay. The average trafficking victim “works” between 14-18 hours a day regardless of her physical condition. Clients of trafficking victims represent a cross-section of Israeli society. It is estimated that men in Israel pay approximately 1,000,000 visits a month to brothels around the country.
Other Actors in the Chain of Trafficking
Private industries, like hotels and newspapers, also contribute to this atrocious human rights violation by providing services to pimps and brothels. Hotels provide special deals to brothel owners and pimps, promoting the exploitation of these women. Drivers transport the women to and from clients. Newspapers and Internet sites advertise “services” and print ads recruiting new victims into the chain of trafficking.