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Israel: sex offenders released early, report reveals

Israeli women protest against rape and sexual harassment [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli women protest against rape and sexual harassment [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli sex offenders are being released early from prison, according to the latest report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel (ARCCI). Published today, the report reveals that the number of sexual assault cases registered with the authorities in 2021 was 6,922, almost 17 per cent higher than in 2020.

Female victims made up 83 per cent of the cases last year. Moreover, 43 per cent of the total cases saw children as the victims, which is more than double the figure for the previous year.

"In institutions such as the police and the Israel Prison Service, which are male [dominated] and also hierarchical, we were exposed to painful cases in which women were exploited, harassed and harmed," explained Orit Sulitzeanu, the Director-General at ARCCI. "In the end, they paid the price for daring to complain rather than the offender being fired from his workplace."

This indicates that there is "great difficulty in filing a police report against a close contact," the report said. Moreover, the number of cases forwarded to the prosecutor's office was seven per cent lower than the previous year, despite the increase in reported sexual offences.

According to the report, 4,521 sexual offence and sexual harassment cases were investigated at the prosecutor's office in 2020. However, last year, the figure was down to 4,218. Similarly, the report noted a lower number of indictments being filed for sexual offences in 2021, down to 717 from 744 in 2020.

READ: Palestinian woman demands trial of Israeli soldiers for sexual assault

Worryingly, one-third of all prisoners serving time for sexual offences refused to attend mandatory rehabilitation programmes, while 75 per cent were released early and failed to serve a full sentence.

Just under 90 per cent of sexual offence cases involving Israeli army officers were opened but later closed without charge. The Israel Defence Forces reported an 82 per cent increase in complaints about sexual offences since 2016.

"Israeli society is a society bathed in sexual violence, and women pay a difficult and heavy price for it," Sulitzeanu told the Jerusalem Post. "One of the reasons for this is the fact that in Israel, many organisations derive organisational norms from the military, which is a hierarchical, masculine and, of course, militaristic organisation."

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