Prostitution and the state: Israel illustrated

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This article discusses historical scheme that illustrates an overview of the state’s attitude to prostitution. The topic is discussed within ancient times and contemporary discourse through Midrashim, perspectives in political theory and in case studies, with a focus on Israel. Beginning by unraveling the implicit and mythical layers that led to the separation between “good sexuality” and “bad sexuality”, I refer to Mary Douglas (2004), who provides a constructive notion which she calls “unifying experience” that offers ideas of purity and pollution constructs of society. This part is followed by yet implicit constructions of sexuality in the myth of Lilith in a Jewish Midrash. Other forms of political control of prostitution in the Greek polis, into the medieval era and throughout the industrial revolution reveal that sexuality, either “good” or “bad”, is consistently associated with capital. The family as one of the most effective agents of the state in controlling the thread that associates sexuality and capital is analyzed through Friedrich Engels’ analysis of the Origins of the Family (1940). The last part of the article focuses on contemporary Israel and its prominent role in trafficking in women in the globalization era.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProstitution, Pornography and Trafficking in Women
Subtitle of host publicationIsrael’s Blood Money
EditorsEsther Hertzog, Erella Shadmi
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
Edition1st Edition
ISBN (Electronic)9780429431289
ISBN (Print)9781138364585
StatePublished - 2019


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