(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Knesset Legal Affairs Committee on Monday gave initial approval to a bill
that would make it a crime to take photos of sex crime victims.
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bill’s sponsor, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said that the fact that it is illegal
to publish victims’ photos does not prevent photographers from taking their
pictures, forcing the victims to flee or hide to protect themselves.
believe that it is important to protect the victims from photographers’
harassment. I want photographers to know that they will no longer be able to
take pictures of women who are victims of sex crimes,” said Hotovely.
bill sets the penalty for photographers who transgress the law at up to six
The Public Security Ministry representative at the
debate, Rachel Garbane, backed the bill, saying that “Privacy is necessary in
order to encourage more women to complain and by doing so, to create deterrence
against additional attacks.”
Garbane said that in the past two years
there had been six complaints about invasion of privacy.
Liat Klein from
the Association of Rape Crisis Centers also backed the bill, saying that every
photo taken constituted harassment.
In a position paper submitted to the
committee, the association suggested expanding the bill so as to make it illegal
to publish anything that may make it possible to identify the victim, including
things like the scene of the crime, the building where the victim resides or the
victim’s place of work.
Mibi Moser, a lawyer who represents many news
publications, sent a letter to the committee opposing the bill, writing that the
law already prohibited the publication of details that could identify the
victims and that the new bill was superfluous.
Moser said that making the
act of taking a picture a criminal offense was unreasonable as would make it
impossible for photographers to do their jobs. He also said that the prohibition
would mean that if a photographer caught a sex crime victim on film, even if
accidentally or unknowingly, he or she would face criminal charges.
stressed that the bill came to solve a problem that rarely occurs, since most
photographers, knowing that photos of victims can’t be published, don’t spend
time trying to shoot them.
Moser also said the bill didn’t take into
account cases in which victims choose to identify themselves as such to empower
other women, and ask to have their photos taken.
The bill will now go to
the plenum for a first reading.