A group of sex workers in Jerusalem are looking for a safe haven after their business was raided by police last month.
The women said they had to leave their homes due to police raids on their businesses and were forced to work as prostitutes.
“They were really demanding and we were scared to stay here, we had to work on a daily basis,” said Sara.
“When we did leave, we were forced into prostitution.”
The raid came amid heightened security concerns around the holy site of the biblical Temple Mount and the Temple Mount compound itself, which has become a hotbed of controversy over the last year.
The women said that over the course of the past few months, they have been forced to relocate from one of their establishments to another in order to continue their work.
“We have to leave our homes because we can’t keep doing our job because we are under police surveillance,” said one of the women, identified as Fatima.
“It is a constant fear of being watched.”
She added that the harassment has been particularly intense on weekends, when she and other women were unable to work.
The raids took place in March and April of this year, when police raided two of the businesses and seized more than 50,000 condoms.
The raid forced the women to move from one location to another.
“I have been trying to leave since the police raid on the other one, because we have no business here,” Fatima said.
“We have no place to stay.”
The police department has since arrested and charged five people, including a security guard, with illegally selling condoms in the area.
The other seven suspects are also facing charges for allegedly working in a business in the Temple area.
“The police have been doing these raids every day for the past three months.
I don’t think I have to go outside anymore,” said Fatima, who requested that her full name not be used.”
If you see them coming, run away and hide behind a building,” she added.”
When the police raided my business, I was afraid.
I had to move.”