HA'ARETZ (English Edition)
Monday, September 2, 2002

Baruch Kra

Ministry told to set up shelters for victims of human traffickers

The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry must take responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of shelters for the victims of prostitute trafficking, the director general of the Justice Ministry, Aharon Avramovitz, ordered recently.

The decision comes despite claims by senior employees of the ministry that the Public Security Ministry should be handed the task.

Avramovitz was appointed arbitrator in the case after a bitter argument between the two ministries.

According to police sources, the lack of such shelters has not only interfered in their investigations, but is also an infringement of the women's rights.

Officers often find it difficult to take testimony against pimps and traffickers under suspicion while the women who are to testify are usually held, if at all, under conditions close to arrest.

The special committee headed by Avramovitz that looked into the issue, conducted a comparative study, which revealed that in countries where such shelters do exist — such as the Netherlands and Belgium — the number of victims willing to testify rose after the creation of the shelters.

The committee handed its recommendations to Education Minister Limor Livnat, who heads the ministerial committee for the advancement of the status of women.

Among the recommendations was a call for the creation of shelters for all the victims of human trafficking, irrespective of whether the woman intended to testify.

But the committee specified there should be two separate areas in each shelter. One open area, for women whose identity had been verified and who were due to testify against the suspected trafficker; and a separate, guarded zone, for women who refuse to testify, whose identity is unsure, who are awaiting deportation or who are still undecided about whether to testify.

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Created: September 4, 2002
Last modified: September 9, 2002
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