Shaked fights back against sexism: Lewd comments, rape come from people who objectify women

The minister recently initiated legislation to expand legal aid for victims, as part of a view that sexual assault is not just a one-time event, but a trauma that lasts long after the attack.

July 8, 2015 17:59
2 minute read.
Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked is sworn in as Justice Minister at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 14.. (photo credit: JIM HOLLANDER / POOL / REUTERS)

Objectification of women must be brought to an end, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a powerful Knesset speech against sexism on Wednesday, in which she mentioned her own experience.

“There is a clear line to be drawn between those who say to a woman who was sexually assaulted that ‘it takes two to tango’ and that she probably uses her sexuality to reach her goals, to a former politician that talks about a colleague and sends her to take pictures so her photograph will be hung on the walls of garages,” Shaked said.

The justice minister referred to a Facebook status by former national infrastructure minister Yosef Paritzky that made waves. Shortly after Shaked was appointed to her position, the ex-Shinui MK wrote: “Wow, this is the first time in Israel that a justice minister could star in a calendar that is hung in garages.”

The first part of her sentence was in reference to an incident last week, in which a female judge told a sexually harassed Israel Electric Corporation employee that “it takes two to tango” and that she was probably flirting at work.

Shaked spoke in response to motions to the agenda by MKs Revital Swid (Zionist Union), Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) and Orly Levy-Abecasis (Yisrael Beytenu) about the judiciary’s treatment of victims of sexual assault in light of the judge’s comments.

The minister pointed out that she recently initiated legislation to expand legal aid for victims, as part of a view that sexual assault is not just a one-time event, but a trauma that lasts long after the attack took place.

Shaked said all judges dealing with criminal cases must take a course on how to address sexual assault, one that is taught by experts on the topic, but that in light of sexist comments by judges, she is considering expanding the continuing education program to include justices who preside over civil cases that are connected to other aspects of sexual assault.

However, Shaked added, the problem did not begin between courthouses’ walls and will not be solved by judges taking a course.

“The problem is more deeply rooted than that. The problem begins with people who look at women and do not see more than a sexual object,” she said.

Bringing up the examples of the judge blaming the victim of sexual harassment and the lewd comment Paritzky made about her, Shaked said “this is a discourse of a system of values that cannot see a woman as equal to a man.

“This is a discourse that tells a woman, ‘Be pretty and be quiet,’ then says to her, ‘Be pretty but don’t move up,’ and then asks, ‘How do you even allow yourself to be pretty?’” she continued.

“As long as we do not uproot this discourse, we will not successfully solve the problem as a society... because the solution is in an overall change in the way women are treated.”

Shaked vowed to make sure the Justice Ministry and the judiciary do their part to change the discourse, and hoped to cooperate with other ministries to bring results.

“I hope that we will successfully change the discourse until it becomes obvious, so obvious that all of our daughters will not understand what we were talking about today,” she said.

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