Israel's state prosecutor's office has issued a miserable new directive clamping down on such lap dances in the country's strip clubs, claiming that under some circumstances dances could be considered an illegal act of prostitution.
Prosecutor Shlomo Lamberger has instructed police to increase the enforcement against such lap dances, which, in certain circumstances (such as the duration of the dance and the nature of the physical contact between the dancer and the customer)
will be considered as an act of prostitution-- which does not have a legal definition.
According to the new directive, law enforcement officials will be able to act against owners of strip clubs by issuing closing warrants, discontinuing the
clubs' business licenses, and in case of violations of the directive, filing indictments against such institutions.
The police have begun issuing warning letters to strip club owners around the country detailing the change in policy and warning
the owners of potential future police action. Anti-prostitution activists have hailed the new policy for giving the police an effective enforcement tool that will make it easier to close down strip clubs on the claim that prostitution activity is
occurring on the premises.
The new policy was developed after a Tel Aviv district court judge ruled that a strip club near the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange could not be granted a license as a place of entertainment. The prosecutor's office then
assembled a team to look into grounds for deeming strip clubs as places of prostitution.
Israeli authorities issued administrative orders shutting down three strip clubs in Tel Aviv, following State Prosecution guidelines under which lap dancing is claimed to be prostitution and buying it is a criminal offence.
Closure orders were issued
to the Baby Dolls, Shendu and GoGo clubs. The administrative order allows for the immediate closure of the clubs for 30 days, as police investigate their activities. When the order expires, in accordance with the findings of the investigation, the police
and prosecution can decide whether to ask the court to extend it. There is now only one other strip club openly operating in Israel.
According to a law enforcement source, after the guidelines were issued by former State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan,
the club owners were warned about the need to revamp their operations before being shut down. Prosecutors said in a statement:
The action was carried out in accordance with the state prosecutor's instruction regarding
enforcement policy against violations that are affiliated with prostitution, including the act known as 'lap dance,' about which it was determined that under certain circumstances it is a forbidden act.
A new law criminalizing payment for sexual services took effect in Israel last week. A new survey by Tel Aviv University found that nearly one in every three Israeli men say they have paid for sex at least one time in their lives, and one in six say that
they have paid on multiple occasions.
Sex work has long been legalized in Israel 204 but most of the activities that make professional sex work possible are not. Operating a brothel and pimping are outlawed in the country of about 8.8 million, and in
January of last year, Israel's Knesset, or parliament, passed a new law making the payment of money for sexual services a crime.
That law finally took effect on July 10 of this year. Not only is paying for sex illegal under the new law, but even
seeking the services of a sex worker can now be punished by a fine ranging from the equivalent of $530 for a first offense, to a maximum of $20,400 for repeat offenses, according to a report by The Times of Israel .
In fact, the law now makes it
illegal even to be caught in a place where sexual services are offered, such as a brothel.