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Israel passes law banning payment to ‘prostitutes’

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Israel’s parliament on Monday unanimously passed legislation which bans paying for sex, making it the tenth nation in the world to use this route to crack down on prostitution and provide further protections for sex workers.

Israel has already criminalized sex trafficking, brothels, and pimping — though prostitution itself remains legal.

The legislation passed Monday will penalize the purchase of sex with a NIS 2,000 ($534), which doubles for a second offense. Repeated violations could carry fines of up to NIS 75,300 ($20,000) and criminal prosecution.

Referred to as the “Nordic Model,” the law reflects an international push to institute legal punishments to combat sex trafficking and the violations of sex worker rights.According to Israel’s Welfare Ministry, about 14,000 people are sex workers in Israel, including approximately 3,000 minors.

In Israel, a sex worker’s average lifespan is 46, compared to a national average of 82.The “Nordic Model” emerged in Sweden in 1999 with the Sex Purchase Act. Norway, Canada, France, Iceland, Northern Ireland and several states in the US have since passed similar legislation.

International groups involved in the fight for sex worker rights support the model as a proven means of reducing the demand for prostitution, effectively reducing the number of people in sex work as well as human trafficking practices.

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