Sexual harassment victim [Illustrative].
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel on Thursday condemned the military prosecutor’s decision not to allow May Fattal to speak at the plea agreement signing for Liran Hajbi. Hajbi, the commander of the Tzabar Battalion in the Givati Brigade, was indicted in March after Fattal filed a complaint against him for sexual harassment.
The plea agreement, signed by Hajbi, finds him guilty of five counts of misconduct but does not mention sexual harassment or indecent acts.
Fattal asked to speak at the plea agreement signing to protest the deal that was made, but was turned down by the military prosecutor.
“The decision of the military court not to allow a female IDF soldier, who was sexually harassed, to voice her opinion on the plea agreement against Hajbi is outrageous and extremely unreasonable,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the association of rape crisis centers in Israel. “Is there a fear that the foundations of the court will collapse due to a soldier who was sexually assaulted speaking out? Is the concern that things will be said that will shame the IDF and the way it dealt with this case?”
Sulitzeanu explained that victims of sexual assault are deprived of control over their bodies and it is therefore of utmost importance to allow them to be heard with regards to a plea agreement, thereby returning some amount of control to the victim. She added that the decision sends a message to female soldiers and their families that not only does the IDF tolerate harassment and assault of female soldiers, but it also does not support the victims or grant them the respect of being heard.
Both Hajbi’s lawyer and the military prosecutor stated that Fattal was consulted before the plea agreement was accepted and she approved of the deal.