A bill making the dissemination of sexual pictures or videos on the Internet without permission, punishable with a five-year prison sentence, could go to a final Knesset vote as early as Monday.
The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women authorized Yesh Atid MK Yifat Kariv’s bill on Wednesday for its second and third (final) plenum readings.
According to the legislation, anyone who creates a sexual film or photographs without the subject’s consent or awareness and posts it online without that person knowing or agreeing to it committed sexual harassment. The perpetrator could then serve up to five years in prison and be considered a sex offender.
“These days, we see more and more cases of sexual assault that are documented and distributed to the public without limits. This legislative intervention is necessary and will help combat the shocking phenomenon of ‘virtual rape,’” Kariv said.
Kariv expressed hope that the bill will be groundbreaking in helping victims of sexual assault.
Meanwhile, Kariv, who proposed the bill and actively promotes legislation to help women, came under fire for implying that Jewish Hebrew University of Jerusalem students who complained that they were being harassed by Arab youths are racists.
Several students testified to the Knesset Interior Committee last week that they were sexually harassed or had rocks thrown at them by young men from nearby Isawiya.
MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) said his daughter, who studies at Hebrew University, was sexually harassed, and that not only Jewish students face this problem.
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) called for an increase in security and, if necessary, for there to be a checkpoint between the neighborhood and the university.
Kariv chimed in to criticize the students, saying: “I’m trying to think what is more scary, walking around at night in that area, or this hearing.”
“Many times it’s just eight- or nineyear- old kids throwing rocks. This is a phenomenon that means we, as the Israeli society, need to look at ourselves,” she said.
Kariv suggested that the students “look at your surroundings and decide what you can do as students, through dialogue and finding out why children are throwing rocks,” while Levin, sitting next to her, shook his head and rolled his eyes.
Since then, Kariv’s Facebook wall was flooded with posts complaining about her conduct.
“I don’t understand how one day you fight for women’s rights and against sexual harassment, but when it comes to Palestinian youth, it’s permitted,” one post read.
Another poster wrote: “Your words back up and empower the attackers. Shame on you!”