|Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)|
Yacimovich defends victims after Sagi quits Labor
By LAHAV HARKOV
Sexual harassment victims cannot be forced to come forward, Labor leader tells primary panel, advocates equality in Labor.
Leaders cannot tolerate sexual harassment, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich told
female party members on Friday, days after former OC Military Intelligence
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Uri Sagi dropped out of the Labor primary over sexual
“There’s a moral standard, not just a criminal
standard. As leaders, our standard is higher than criminal law, even if it hurts
us politically,” Yacimovich told a panel of female Labor primary candidates in
According to Yacimovich, most women have experienced something
on the scale from harassment to rape.
The Labor leader came to the
defense of women who are sexually harassed, assaulted or raped but decide not to
seek justice through the criminal system, “even if it sometimes opposes our
desire to bring justice,” explaining that they are often afraid of the reactions
of the people surrounding them.
“She knows she’ll face hell if she [comes
forward] and be accused even though she’s the victim,” Yacimovich said of women
who are sexually harassed or assaulted. “We can’t force the victim to do
something she does not want.
She knows what it’s like to not have control
over her situation.”
A woman approached Yacimovich last week and told her
Sagi sexually harassed her nearly 40 years ago. On Wednesday afternoon, Labor
sent out a message that Sagi was withdrawing from the primary for “reasons of
Announcing his resignation on Thursday, Sagi lamented, “I
was told there are rumors and I found myself in a situation where I cannot
respond, because I don’t know who said what and what their motives
“It is important for me to say this today, this week, and in front
of all of you,” Yacimovich told the audience, hinting at Sagi’s departure from
Yacimovich discussed feminism, saying she adopted the ideology
at a young age, when her eighth grade class was split by gender – boys to
agriculture class, girls to home economics – and was told by a teacher that a
woman’s job is to do laundry, cook and raise children.
“I remember it
like it was yesterday, the feeling of injustice when I saw the list. I left the
class, and refused to come back,” Yacimovich stated.
The Labor leader
emphasized the importance of feminism as something that touches “everyone, of
all social classes,” pointing out that while women have made great strides in
recent decades, there is still work to be done.
Friday’s conference of
female primary candidates was organized by 2011 social protest leader Stav
Shaffir, who is running for a slot on the Labor list for the next
Eighteen women participated in the panel, including former MK
Nadia Hilu and Kadima MK Nino Abesadze, who switched to Labor two weeks ago.
Each candidate introduced herself and told the audience who is the woman who
most influenced her. The most popular answer was “my mother.”