Public officials can be considered sexual harassers even if their victims do not
reject them, according to a bill authorized for its first reading by the Knesset
Committee on the Status of Women on Wednesday.
Meretz MK Michal Roisin’s
bill is an amendment to the Law to Prevent Sexual Harassment, which lists
different kinds of relationships in which propositioning someone or making
sexual comments is considered harassment even if the victim did not express
opposition to it.
The reasoning is that in a dependent relationship or
when one person has power over the other, the victim may be afraid to say no to
Roisin added public workers and elected officials to that
list, even though they may not have an employer-employee relationship with the
victim, because their power and influence could intimidate a victim and make her
unable to express opposition.
“Sexual harassment by a public worker is
equal to sexual harassment by someone with authority [in a workplace],” Roisin
said. “Even the head of the water department at a municipality, for example, has
power over women whose water was disconnected because they’re in debt.”