Israel's leading women's magazine, Laisha, has published a cover story to mark International Women's Day, featuring the stories of 22 women who said they have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Inspired by New York Magazine's July 2015 cover featuring 35 women in chronological order of their alleged sexual assault by comedian Bill Cosby, Israel's Laisha (Hebrew for: 'For the Woman') magazine featured 22 women wearing black clothes, seated in rows of chairs and one empty chair, symbolizing those who have chosen to remain silent.
's Editor-in-Chief, Karina Shtotland, said journalist Sharon Rofe-Ofir had interviewed about 50 women aged 20 to 50 throughout Israeli society, including Jews, Arabs, religious and secular, all of whom told their stories of abuse.
The women briefly told their stories to President Reuven Rivlin's wife, Nechama, who said she hoped more chairs would not be added to the front page. Some of the women broke down in tears, apparently still unable to deal with the pain.
"At the end of the process, 22 of them, as many as the letters of the (Hebrew) alphabet, gained courage to sit on the chair on the front page and say: 'you will not force us to be silent," Shtotland said during a meeting on Monday with Nechama.
Shtotland said New York Magazine
was happy to hear that the Israeli magazine was inspired by its coverage and voiced hope other media outlet's would follow in their footsteps.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby, whose long career was based on family-friendly comedy, of sexually assaulting them in attacks dating back to the 1960s. Many of the incidents are too old to prosecute.
Cosby, 78, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Shani Shtalryd, 42, who said she was sexually attacked six times since the age of six and then raped at age 19, said the women were abused by different men, unlike the Cosby accusers.
"We look brave and strong, we still struggle but we are strong together and hopefully things will change," said Shtalryd.
"I think we are all here to fight darkness, this is one of the darkest areas still in Israel and this is a very very big light," she added.
Daphna Argaman, 51, a mother of three, said she was sexually abused by her father from age 12 to 14 after her mother had passed away.
"Unfortunately, I don't think that something changed, I think a lot a lot of women, youth girls, children are raped and abused again everyday, the thing that changed that we are talking about it," said Argaman.
Shtotland said that after the publication of the magazine's March edition, they received dozens of calls from women who disclosed their story of abuse and added: "I was also amazed from the public support that we got".
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