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 the harasser.

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.”

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