09:08 GMT +321 April 2019
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    The Israeli parliament has unanimously passed a bill which bans paying for sex but does not envisage any crackdown on prostitutes

    Attention, Johns! New Israeli Law Prohibits Paying for Sex, Spares Prostitutes

    © AFP 2019 / VALERY HACHE
    Middle East
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    Would-be whoremongers will soon have to think twice before visiting a prostitute in Israel, as a new piece of legislation is threatening those who purchase sex with stiff new penalties.

    The Israeli parliament has unanimously passed a bill banning punters from paying for sex, though lawmakers opted not to penalise the prostitutes themselves.

    The bill outlaws the purchase of sex, stipulating a 2,000 shekel ($534) fine as punishment; the financial penalty is doubled for the second offence.

    Repeat violations could carry fines of up to 75,300 shekels ($20,000) and criminal prosecution.

    READ MORE: Swapping Erections for Elections: Prostitutes Dip Toes in Caribbean Politics

    The law is due to come into effect in 18 months; during the period, the government will "try to create rehabilitation mechanisms for sex workers to allow them to find alternative livelihoods", according to The Times of Israel.

    Though sex trafficking, brothels, and pimping are already considered criminal activity in Israel, prostitution itself remains legal; it's estimated that at least 14,000 sex workers operate in the country, including 3,000 minors.

    READ MORE: Touch But Don't Look: Tourists in Amsterdam Banned From Ogling Prostitutes

    The new law makes Israel the eighth nation in the world to implement to the so-called "Nordic Model" of legislation, which reflects an international drive to combat prostitution by targeting purchasers of sex.

    In 1999, Sweden approved the Sex Purchase Act, and since then, similar legislation has been passed in Norway, Canada, France, Iceland, Northern Ireland and several US states.


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