Police shut down the last three strip clubs in Tel Aviv

Move comes after state attorney rules lap dances may be illegal under prostitution laws

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Demonstrators take part in a protest against prostitution outside the Gogo strip club in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2016. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Demonstrators take part in a protest against prostitution outside the Gogo strip club in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2016. (Flash90)

Police closed down three strip clubs in Tel Aviv on Monday, enforcing prostitution laws under which lap dances can be considered illegal, under certain circumstances.

With the issuing of administrative closure orders to the Babydolls, Shendu, and Gogo clubs, Tel Aviv no longer has any operating strip joints.

The orders were issued due to prostitution-related offenses and prohibitions against lap-dances, which have been deemed a criminal offense in some cases, police said in a statement.

The move was carried out in cooperation with the Tel Aviv District prosecutors, the National Insurance Agency, the Health Ministry, and tax authorities.

Attorney Nitzan Kahane, director of Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution, welcomed the development.

“This is a necessary step, after years in which brave women spoke of the tremendous damage caused to them as a result of exploitation in strip clubs,” she told the Ynet website.

Kahane urged authorities to bring the club owners to trial for crimes of prostitution. The police statement did not clarify if criminal charges will be lodged against any of the club operators.

Last year, then-state attorney Shai Nitzan published a directive on enforcement of prostitution laws under which lap dances are considered prostitution if there is intimate contact between the dancer and the client.

Though pimping, sex trafficking, and running a brothel are punishable under existing Israeli law, prostitution itself remains legal. However, procuring sex services was made illegal at the end of 2018. A new law approved on December 31, 2018, criminalizes procuring the services of a prostitute, as well as presence in a location chiefly used for prostitution, such as a brothel.

The law was set to come into effect mid-2020 to give the state time to form rehabilitation mechanisms for sex workers and allow them to find alternative livelihoods.

Last August, the Haaretz newspaper reported that the sex workers rehabilitation plan has yet to be implemented as most of the funding for the program had not been disbursed.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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