Who is involved in trafficking in Israel?

  • Trafficker: Usually nationals of the FSU who have ties with organized crime. These are the men and women responsible for the “sale” of women to brothel owners and pimps in Israel.
  • Smugglers: Most trafficking victims in Israeli are smuggled through the border with Egypt. Bedouin smugglers transport women across the Sinai desert and into the country.
  • Pimps/brothel owners: Exploit the victims by forcing them to receive 10-15 clients per day on average, often without any pay. 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.
  • Private industry: Hotels, newspapers, drivers and internet services are guilty of providing services to pimps and brothels thereby enabling the exploitation of women.
  • Clients: Without clients, there would be no market for the exploitation of victims.


How many trafficking victims are there in the country?

Due to the highly clandestine nature of human trafficking, it is impossible to know exactly how many victims are in the country at any given time. Government sources indicate that over 3,000 women have been trafficked into Israel while most NGOs give a much higher estimate.


Where do trafficking victims come from?

Nearly all of the trafficking victims in Israel come from the eastern bloc of the former Soviet Union. Source countries include Moldova, Uzbekistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan.


How do the victims get into the country?

Most victims enter the country through Israel‘s border with Egypt. They are transported across the Sinai desert and into Israel by a network of Bedouin smugglers. Once in Israel, they are often sold and resold to brothel owners who demand that they work 14-18 hours a day. Victims are forced to receive between 10-15 clients a day on average, often for no money at all. At every stage in the process, the victims are abused and exploited often suffering severe beatings, rape and even starvation.


What is the profile of the trafficked women?

Trafficked women, in general, come from desperately impoverished areas, both rural and urban. Many of them have little or no education at all. A high percentage of victims come from a background of physical and sexual abuse. Most of them are single or single mothers. The average age of trafficked women in Israel is estimated to be 23.


Why don’t the trafficking victims just run away?

Victims are often physically caged in brothels with guards there to prevent their escape. Most victims have been forbidden to leave by their pimps and traffickers – dangerous criminals who threaten the lives of the victims and their families. Victims also feel that they have nowhere to turn. Most believe that they will be prosecuted as illegal aliens and put in prison if they turn to the police.


What if the victim consents to being trafficked?

No one would consent to becoming a slave of their own free will. Victims will sometimes “consent” to the initial stage of trafficking because they were misled or deceived by traffickers.  Other times abject poverty or psychological coercion leads victims to consent. Any “consent”, however, is not really voluntary. That’s why countries around the world, including Israel, have agreed that “consent” of the victim does not justify the traffickers’ actions.

Who are the clients?

Everyone. Clients of trafficking victims represent a cross-section of Israeli society. Men from all backgrounds, ethnicities and ages exploit trafficking victims every single day. Most clients are not aware that the women are trafficking victims and believe they are engaged in prostitution of their own free will. In reality, the overwhelming majority of women working in prostitution are victims of sexual slavery.

How is human trafficking different from prostitution?

The victims of human trafficking are enslaved. Often under threat of death, and without their consent, they are forced to provide sex to men for pay. The payment goes directly to their “owners” while the victim receives nothing or near nothing. In contrast, in the case of prostitution, women sell their own bodies in exchange for money.

Prostitution is legal in Israel while trafficking is a highly illegal crime. It is estimated that over 80% of the women involved in the sex industry in Israel are victims of human trafficking.