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Several years ago, an article was printed in an Israeli newspaper. The article stated that in Beersheba, high school girls, who were aged 14-15 were lured into prostitution by perpetrators, with the promise of payment. The income would allow them to purchase expensive clothes, shoes and cosmetics, of which they could only dream. The perpetrators gained emotional control of the girls by sweet talking them with words of caring, promise and concern.

Today, the Israeli Welfare Services take care of 17,000 young women aged 13-25 that are in this situation – these young women are selling their bodies for designer clothing and cell phones. It was also found that many of these girls, sadly, felt safer on the streets than in their own homes.

Empowering and keeping women safe is an integral part of WIZO’s work. In addition to initiating and lobbying for stricter legislation, WIZO is providing women of all ages with life changing programs and opportunities to take back their lives and turn them around for the better.

As WIZO’s work and reputation with the young teens expanded throughout Beersheba, older girls aged 16-26 began to approach WIZO for help. The numbers grew in both groups, making it clear that the developmental, emotional and therapeutic needs of the two age groups were very different.

The older girls needed a place of their own and WIZO Australia was approached to support this new project for 16-26 year old women. This centre is aptly named Makom BaLev – A place in the heart.

Makom BaLev will take many young women off the streets and away from prostitution, giving them an opportunity to be educated and become proud of what they can achieve. The program includes; professional counselling for up to 50 young women; vocational rehabilitation tapered to individual needs; referral to medical care; safe and hygienic emergency housing, and hot nutritious meals. This is the very essence of “whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world” Talmud.

For further information on Makom BaLev or any of WIZO’s other projects, please contact the WIZO Victoria office on (03) 9272 5588 or via email
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