(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Women face sexual harassment regardless of whether they’re wearing a miniskirt or a hijab, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) wrote, defending a victim who revealed her name on social media.
Givati Brigade commander Lt.-Col. Liran Hajbi was dismissed from the IDF in December for sexually harassing women under his command.
After Hajbi received a plea deal, in which he will remain out of the IDF without criminal charges, May Fatal wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Monday, saying that he molested her even though she made it clear she was not interested in him.
“What kind of message does this send to other female soldiers?” she wrote. “I feel terrible that Hajbi was treated leniently despite the horrible things he did and the mental harm he caused me.”
“Imagine if someone molested you and harassed you nonstop in every possible way and at every opportunity, and the punishment he got is he was fired from work. How would you feel?” she added.
Fatal wrote that despite her experience, women should not be quiet or embarrassed; the attackers should be embarrassed, not the victims.
Yacimovich came to Fatal’s defense late on Tuesday night after she faced criticism on social media for complaining about sexual harassment while having a photograph of herself in a swimsuit on her Facebook page. The MK’s post was “liked” more than 80,000 times and “shared” over 13,000 times.
Yacimovich commended Fatal for her courage and unwillingness to accept harassment and assault, and wrote sarcastically: “You crossed every line. You should be ashamed. You’re a victim of sexual assault and you’re pretty? And smiling? And you go to the beach in a swimsuit?...
Didn’t you know it’s your job as a victim to be quiet and depressed… How did you dare think that your commander, a married man with children who is almost twice your age, will be punished according to criminal law? And, if we’re already thinking about it, how did you dare complain in the first place?” The MK said those criticizing Fatal for having a photo in a swimsuit online seem to think she wore it to the army, traipsing around Hajbi until he could no longer control himself, thus making him the victim.
“Are May and my daughter and all women supposed to dress modestly, maybe take some lessons on the rules of dress in Mea She’arim, so that God forbid they don’t tempt some miserable man?” Yacimovich asked. “What are we supposed to conclude about men? That they’re weak? That they don’t control themselves? That they’re a walking danger? That is a lie and a disgusting calumny of all men.”
Yacimovich pointed out that similar percentages of secular and haredi women face sexual assault, and in societies where women are forced to “look like walking tents with a pair of eyes” there is sexual assault, as well, meaning that modest dress does not prevent such crimes.
“Women’s bodies are worthless in places run by men with corrupt, criminal behavior patterns,” the MK explained.
“Whether that control is expressed through physical force or through the power of authority and seniority... such control, together with weak morals and an environment that does not set redlines, is the reason such things happen, and it has no connection to whether you wear a miniskirt or a hijab.”
Yacimovich ended the post by telling Fatal to keep going to the beach in a swimsuit if she wants and keep being brave.
“You are a source of inspiration and power and we love you and support you,” she said.