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Photo: Gabi Menashe
Not just a business transaction
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Meet Svetlana
Sad reality: More than 50,000 Israeli men will visit a brothel today
More than 50,000 Israeli men will celebrate International Women's Day tonight with a visit to a brothel.

 

Sounds outrageous? According to statistics provided by Amnesty International, there are between 5,000 – 10,000 victims of the sex trade in Israel. These women are forced to service at least 10 customers a day.

 

The johns of Israel's sex industry, you'll be shocked to learn, are not deviants or "freaks." They have no 24-hours-a-day bulges in their trousers, or lascivious glances that say, "yeah, yeah, it's me."

 

They are not just workers, foreigners or tourists. The clients for Israel's brothels and escort salons come from all walks of life, and most of us know at least a few. Army buddies, the mechanic, the dentist. Ordinary people. Readers of Ynetnews. Maybe you?

 

Don't be surprised. You're not guilty, you haven't done anything wrong. So what if once-in-a-while you get yourself a call girl? Everyone does it. You're not a criminal. You pay good money and receive a service.

 

And it's not that you beat her or do anything disgusting to her. Compared to other johns, you are pretty polite and well-mannered. At the end of the day, you're a man. You've come to fulfill your needs.

 

And if this is what she's chosen to do with her life – well, she's a big girl. She doesn't like the work? Let her go an clean houses. Let her go find someone who'll pay her 200 shekels for 10 minutes work.

 

But perhaps in honor of International Women's Day, let me introduce the woman you'll have such a good time with tonight. Here's 10 things you never knew about her.

 

1. Her name is Svetlana. Like most whores, she's from Eastern Europe. She's 22-years-old.

 

2. Misha, Svetlana's boss, bought her for 5,000 dollars from an Egyptian Mafioso who smuggled her across the border tied to a camel

after he and his friends "checked her out" to see if she was worth the effort. Misha will bring 10-20 johns to Svetlana every day – NIS 200 shekels a piece, bringing in NIS 10,000 a month from her. He pays NIS 5,000 a month to some baboon to stand guard and make sure she doesn't run away. Another NIS 2,000 for the apartment, and that's about all his expenses. Misha's a visionary businessman; apart from Svetlana, he's got a few more girls in apartments around the country.

 

3. Svetlana won't see much of the money you pay. Misha will give her NIS 20-50 for each trick she turns. Usually, she uses this for drugs and cigarettes.

 

4. Svetlana is heavily into drugs. I'm sorry to tell you this, pal, but none of her performance came naturally. So what, she does ecstasy, a bit of cocaine, and anything else. Misha will worry about selling her.

 

5. She was sexually abused as a child. Like most prostitutes, she learned the profession at home, at an age when most girls were in school. Sorry to disappoint you again, buddy, but at no stage has she ever chosen to be a hooker.

 

6. She's got a little girl back in the Ukraine. If Svetlana makes problems and the customers aren't happy – Misha will make sure she, too, gets 10 customers a day.

 

7. If, by some miracle, Svetlana ever finds the strength to run away from her pimp, she'll be deported, back where she came from, and where his friends will "deal" with her. The only way she can be safe, and even then only for a few months, is to testify against Misha, but she's afraid he'll kill her if she does.

 

8. Svetlana speaks a little Hebrew, knows there are Jews and Arabs here, has heard of Tel Aviv and Haifa and Eilat. She's been here two years, but she's got no friends. She's got no cell phone, and even if she had, she's got no one to call.

 

9. All Svetlana owns are a couple of suitcases of clothes, NIS 500 and a carton of Marlboros.

 

10. Svetlana is very disciplined. She's done what she's been told for years. She's a good worker. Nothing makes her happy or sad. She's got no hopes and no expectations from life. She just wants to stop.

 

So, there you've got it. That's Svetlana. She's the service provider, you're the customer. The sex between you is completely professional, and there's no unwanted strings attached. Tonight, when other women get flowers or playful text messages, she'll have you, and another dozen just like you. Happy women's day, Svetlana.

 

Arik Diamant is a member of Amnesty International's fight against women trafficking

 

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