Trafficking and Prostitution: Lessons from Jewish Sources

μιρο 2 24γραμματαNaomi Graetz and Julie Cwikel

Australian Journal of Jewish Studies 20 [2006]: 25-58

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Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men. Whether our reformers admit it or not, the economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution (Emma Goldman, 1911).
If you showed yourself slack in time of trouble, wanting in power, If you refrained from rescuing those taken off to death, those condemned to slaughter—If you say, “We knew nothing of it,” Surely, He who fathoms hearts will discern (the truth), He who watches over your life will know it, And He will pay each man as he deserves (Proverbs 24: 10-12).
The prostitution of Jewish women and the use of sex services by Jewish men, primarily through importation of non-Jewish women are not new phenomenon in Jewish history. In Talmudic times we come across a well-quoted text by R. Elai the Elder which says that “if a man feels that his sexual urge (yitzro) is overwhelming, he should go to a place where he is unknown, disguise himself with black clothes and do as his heart desires; in acting thus, he will not defame God’s name in public” (B. Kiddushin 40a).1
This text has been understood by many to imply that using commercial sex services, although not desirable, is preferable to masturbation and the wasting of seed and that if one must, one… free ebook