350 Jewish Girls Rescued from Arab Villages
Learn and Return, an organization that works to prevent Jewish women and girls from getting trapped in abusive relationships with Arab men, has uncovered the shocking truth of an epidemic of young Jewish girls being forced into drug use and prostitution by older Arab men.
Mishmar Ezrachi, of Beersheva in southern Israel, reported to Learn and Return’s rescue counselor how numerous Jewish girls from the area had been lured into relationships with Bedouin Arabs through gifts and kindness, and willingly follow their suitors to their village. But once there, the girls were forced to take drugs and turned into addicts. Then they are forced prostitute themselves in order to earn money to support their habit.
“Beersheva, Dimona, Ofakim and Sderot have a lot of poor families,” says Shlomo Cohen, a rescue worker for Learn and Return. “Poverty makes young girls vulnerable to the overtures of older Arab men looking to seduce them and force them into drugs and a lifetime of abuse and prostitution. We are talking about hundreds of young girls, many underage, who are now trapped. They may have been tricked into going willingly at first, but they are not there willingly now – they are addicted to drugs and need help to get out.”
Since the girls went willingly, the government doesn’t intervene. “They are aware of the problem, but there is no place to put these girls, especially after they bear children,” Cohen says. “Someone has to do something. The girls are terribly abused both physically and emotionally, and live like dogs picking up scraps of food.”
The organization estimates that more than 20,000 Jewish girls are currently trapped in Arab villages under similar circumstances. The numbers rise daily, they say. Learn and Return works to prevent Jewish girls from getting involved in abusive relationships before they are trapped through individual counseling, job assistance, and speaking to teenage girls in schools. The organization also runs a shelter for young girls who have been rescued from predators.