prostitution israel sex trade brothel prostitute tel aviv knesset israeli parliament
A prostitute walks down a corridor at the infamous brothel 'Hotel Luxor' at the Reeperbahn red-light district in Hamburg March 18, 2008 (Representational image).Reuters file

A Tel Aviv judge's ruling on prostitution in Israel has upset the country's lawmakers, who feel the decision justifies the tactics of pimps in running the trade.

Prostitution in Israel was estimated at $308 million in 2014, with approximately 12,700 people involved in it, according to a government survey.

The judgement  

On May 30, Magistrate's Court Judge Itai Hermelin in Tel Aviv passed a judgment saying prostitutes in the country who are working from home or paying rent for a brothel could be acting legally, according to the Haaretz.

While hearing a case against the activities of a brothel, the judge laid down conditions that would make a brothel's activities "not an offense."

"As long as prostitution is permitted in Israel – with men allowed to buy sex from strangers for money – it is incumbent upon the state to minimize the risks these women face," the judge said, according to the publication. 

"...pushing these women onto the street violates their dignity in an unacceptable manner. As a result, interpreting the law in a way that criminalizes prostitution taking place in a building is unconstitutional and must be rejected," the judge further said in his ruling.

In March this year, the Haaretz had reported that a survey by the social affairs and public security ministries estimated the number of prostitutes in the country between 11,420 and 12,730, with 95 percent of them being women.

Why Israeli parliamentarians are upset

In an analysis, The Jerusalem Post on Saturday said that members of Israel's parliament Knesset felt as if the judge was "endorsing prostitution and what most of them see as enslavement of women."

They felt that a woman's story before a Knesset panel on how she remained in the trade for long was evidence that there was no such thing as "prostitution by choice" in the country.

"It took me a long time to understand that I was not working by choice. I had a mother who did not love me...there were debts in the family, so they decided to send me to work in prostitution."

The Jerusalem Post, citing the Knesset panel's spokesperson, said that "pimps register a residence for prostitution in the names of prostitutes who are, one way or another, enslaved or under duress to continue working for the pimp."