Lap dancing goes from risque to risky in Israel

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Israeli prosecutors have launched an offensive to end lap dancing in strip clubs, while lawmakers from across the political spectrum are backing a bill to outlaw striptease across the board.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday that law enforcement had received a statement from the state attorney’s office saying lap dancing can be considered a form of prostitution and therefore an offence.

Officers are now awaiting instructions on how to enforce the rule, he told AFP.

“The phenomenon known as ‘lap dance’ constitutes in certain circumstances an ‘act of prostitution’,” says the policy ruling, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

“The continuation of this activity will constitute an offence and cause for taking all the measures in the law,” including against business owners, it added.

The police have informed strip club on the change in policy and warned that they would act to enforce it, the ruling said.

Rosenfeld confirmed that “some letters have been sent out” to club owners.

While the state attorney’s office is using administrative tools to toughen enforcement, MPs from both government and opposition are also sponsoring amendments to the law which would criminalise striptease as “part of the cycle of prostitution.”

“The bill is designed to reflect in Israeli law the direct connection between striptease and prostitution, both of which perpetuate harmful and humiliating attitudes towards women and their bodies,” the draft amendment says.

“The stripping industry is closely linked to the prostitution industry, and a large proportion of the strip clubs are used as brothels.”

Though prostitution itself is legal in Israel, most related activities, such as soliciting, pimping and brothel-keeping, are criminal offences.

Last month the government endorsed a bill to fine prostitutes’ clients, which is expected to go before parliament after the summer recess.