TW: Youth in prostitution
Samir, 28, was only 13 when he was first paid for sex. He was drinking, and using drugs. “It’s the only way that a 13 years old boy can sleep with a 60 years old man,” he says. “I drank a lot of alcohol every day. I’d break the bottle and keep the shards to protect myself. Sometimes celebrities and members of the Knesset would stop by. I’d hop into their cars without a second thought.”
He only managed to escape the world of prostitution thanks to ELEM’s program – The Heart 24/7 (Halev Center.)
“Up until a few years ago I didn’t think there was a way out, and I certainly couldn’t imagine myself in a relationship. I thought I’ll end up at the old Central Station with a syringe in my arm, and I started to come to terms with the fact that this is how my life will end.”
But when he was 15, he encountered ELEM’s Outreach Vans and was referred to The Heart.
“They tried to minimize the hours I’m awake and active at night, and created a day time routine for me. They took me to doctors, called me every few days so that I’d know I could trust them and that I could return to the hostel time and again. At some point they even helped me with legal counsel that I needed, and funded my graphic designing classes so that I’d have a profession.”
Currently, ELEM’s center in Tel Aviv is one of the only places in Israel which assists young men and teenage boys in prostitution. There are ten additional centers throughout Israel, operated by different organizations and municipalities, that are only serving young women and teenage girls.
In the Tel Aviv center alone, half of the youth being served are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and half are transgender.
Read more about Samir in this article.