Sharp increase in sexual assault complaints in Israel, report finds

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel noted that only 16% of legal cases end with indictments.

November 20, 2018 20:17
3 minute read.
Sharp increase in sexual assault complaints in Israel, report finds

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel presented its annual report a special session held by the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women on Tuesday. (photo credit: NOAM RIVKIN-PANTON)


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The number of sexual assault complaints has grown significantly in recent years, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said on Tuesday, with the release of its annual report ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which will be marked on Sunday.

In 2017, the center received some 47,000 calls, marking an 11% increase in comparison with 2016, when there were 10,610 calls, and a 53% increase since five years ago, when that number was 7,701.

Fifty-eight percent of the people who contacted the center were minors.

Eighty-nine percent of the calls were from female complainants, and 11% of them male; 48.4% of the males who contacted the center experienced sexual assault by the age of 12, in contrast with 23% of women and 11% of transgender people.

Seventy-one percent of complaints of sexual abuse during childhood involved incest, 27% of which were perpetrated by a parent.

Twenty percent of all complaints involved sexual harassment, and 34% of calls made by adults (18 and over) involved sexual harassment; 10.6% of calls concerning youths involved the circulation of pictures or information, a statistic that was only 1.6% in 2014; and 7.4% of incidents involving youths dealt with group sexual assault, in contrast with 3% of this type of assault among adults.

The center also found that 87% of abuses were perpetrated by someone known to the victim.

According to police data, there was a 9% increase in sexual abuse and sexual harassment cases opened in 2017, 6,587, up from 6,044 in 2016.

According to prosecution data, in 2017, 4,816 cases of sexual abuse or harassment were opened. 84% of those cases were closed and only 16% of them resulted in an indictment.

Titled “A Disturbing Reality, 20 years since the Sexual Harassment Law,” the report was presented on Tuesday at a special session held by the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women.

Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said: “The upward trend in calls to ARCCI, which has been going on for several years in a row, attests to the great need of women and men who have undergone sexual abuse to be heard and to receive emotional support and recognition of the assault they have undergone, as well as the great trust in the services of the help centers. We know that only a small percentage of women and men pursue criminal charges and that only a small percentage of sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints traverse the legal system.

“The result is that among us there are thousands of victims who have been forced to cope for many years with the consequences of sexual abuse, without any assistance, recognition or even justice,” she added.

Sulitzeanu said that despite the progress made in the past 20 years and despite the growth in awareness brought about by the #MeToo movement, “many additional tools are needed to change the reality in which sexual harassment is the lot of almost every woman, and of many men.”

She said that every person who works in law enforcement and comes into contact with victims of sex offenders must undergo training, and disciplinary action on the issue must be improved in the workplace. Most importantly, she stressed, “anyone who sees sexual harassment and sexual abuse must act to stop it and to prevent it,” noting the grave psychological ramifications these offenses have on their victims.

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