Watch CBSN Live

Israel's Sex Trade Escalating

Between 3,000 and 5,000 women have been smuggled into Israel over the past four years in a burgeoning, illegal sex industry, according to a parliamentary committee report issued Wednesday.

Zehava Galon, who heads the Committee Against Trade in Women, said the four-year inquiry showed how women are smuggled across the Egyptian border into Israel and "along the way, raped, beaten and then sold in public auctions." Most of the women are from the former Soviet Union, she said.

Galon, from the opposition Yahad Party, presented the report on Wednesday to the speaker of the parliament, Reuven Rivlin.

The panel faulted judges for light sentences, sometimes only community service, for men running the prostitution rings. The report called for minimum jail terms of 16 years instead.

The report said women are sold to pimps for as much as $10,000 each, work 14-18 hours a day, charge about $30 a client but receive only a small fraction of the money for themselves.

Galon said the biggest challenge in addressing the plight of foreign sex slavery in Israel was to change the attitudes of the public, and especially the police.

When the committee met with the law enforcement agencies, she said, "the prevailing attitude was to treat the women as illegal residents."

Since then the police have slowly begun to see the women as victims of crime, she said.

View CBS News In