Reports of sexual violence on the upswing, 43,000 complaints filed in 2015

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November 21, 2016 05:06

“Despite the increasing social awareness in recent years of the epidemic of sexual assault, the reality on the ground is still difficult.”

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International Womens’ Day

Israeli magazine profiles 22 female victims of sexual assault on International Womens’ Day. (photo credit:screenshot)

Complaints of sexual violence increased by 17% over the last five years, according to a report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.

The association was set to present its report to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality on Monday, ahead of this year’s observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25.

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Some 43,000 complaints of sexual violence were submitted to rape crisis centers last year, of which 9,197 were made by new callers, according to the report.

Among total complaints, 87% were made in regard to female victims, while 12.4% were about males. Of those victims, 60% were minors.

Thirty-seven percent of complaints concerned rape or attempted rape, 17% dealt with sexual harassment and 22% with incest.

An 80% increase was found in complaints of distributing photos without permission, with 248 complaints in 2015 compared with 134 made in 2014.

The vast majority of sexual assaults, some 88%, were committed by someone known to the victim. Of those, 27% were committed by family members, 10% by boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses and 13.6% by work colleagues.

This year’s study also examined the time gap between the assault incident and the victim’s report to a crisis center.

The study found the largest percentage of victims, some 22%, waited between one month and one year before turning to a center, while 20.1% waited over 10 years. Only 18.1% of women reported their assault within one week of its occurrence and of the rest only 11.7% within a month.

Only 14.5% of victims who reported a sexual assault to a crisis center also reported it to police.

In 2015, of the 5,887 sexual assault complaints received by police, only 956 resulted in the issuance of indictments.

“Despite the increasing social awareness in recent years of the epidemic of sexual assault, the reality on the ground is still difficult,” association director Orit Sulitzeanu said. “The fact that such a high proportion of victims are minors must provoke a public outcry.”

“Minors are helpless, and it requires all the systems to understand that we must take extensive action to increase protection for them, to raise awareness of the issue in the education system, to demand that each professional in the relevant areas will receive specialized training and also to raise awareness of the subject among parents,” she said.

Sulitzeanu said a new national pilot program for the prevention of sexual violence involving six government ministries is currently “on the agenda.”

“Right now, we are at a critical point that requires the support of the management of the Education Ministry and additional ministries to operate the pilot and also to receive approval from the Finance Ministry,” she said. “Without suitable funding to promote the national plan, thousands of children will continue to get hurt each year and pay the heavy price for the rest of their lives.”

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