New bill to prohibit photos taken of sex crime victims

Hotovely: Important to protect them from photographer harassment; bill sets penalty for photographers at up to six months imprisonment.

March 8, 2011 00:21
2 minute read.
Victim [Illustrative photo]

Rape victim. (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)


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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.

The 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.

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“I 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.

The bill sets the penalty for photographers who transgress the law at up to six months’ imprisonment.

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.

He 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.

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