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84% of sexual harassment cases in Israel closed without indictments

Israeli women protest against former Israeli president Moshe Katsav outside a court in Tel Aviv on December 30, 2010 during the verdict hearing in the case accusing him of rape and sexual harassment. (Photo by: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 121,000 cases of sexual harassment were reported in Israel in 2017, around 84 per cent of which were closed without indictments, Israeli media revealed this week.

Ynet News reported the findings of research carried out jointly by the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and the Central Bureau of Statistics. Apparently, 97 per cent of the victims of sexual harassment refrained from filing a police report.

According to the research, 25 per cent of the victims did not report the crime because they believe their specific case is “of less importance”; 19 per cent did not complain out of fear that “the police will not be able to handle” their case; and 13 per cent did not complain because “the police are not interested in investigating the incident.”

The annual report for the union of support centres for victims of sexual harassment said that only 16 per cent of abusers in the reported cases in 2017 were indicted and the other cases were closed. It noted that about half of the women who were killed by their husbands in 2016 and 2017 had complained to the police.

READ: Israel soldiers accused of stealing, sexual assault at West Bank checkpoint 

The number of complaints about sexual harassment in Israel has increased sharply since 1998, when the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law was enacted. A total of 1,353 complaints were filed last year compared to 197 in 1998.

In comparison to the figures for 2012, the number of complaints about an act of depravity and rape was up by 17 per cent and 14 per cent respectively in 2017. Up to 48 per cent of the victims were minors. The report also found that 81 per cent of the victims were women and girls, while 19 per cent were men and boys.

Meanwhile, the report also revealed that sexual harassment cases within the Israel Defence Forces increased by 91 compared to the figure for 2012. Almost 1,500 cases were reported last year.

“Women still suffer from sexual harassments at home, on the street, in academia and in the workplace,” explained the Chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, Aida Touma-Suleiman MK. “In this reality, despite the recent conceptual changes, women still feel defenceless.”

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