Anti-sexual harassment bills clear hurdle

Harassers to be fined up to NIS 150,000, "Sex Tape Bill" passes vote; MK Roisin: Market loses a billion shekels each year due to harassment.

Rape victim (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Rape victim
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Two bills increasing the punishment for and definition of sexual harassment passed preliminary votes in the Knesset Wednesday.
The first bill, proposed by MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) increases the penalty a judge can charge a harasser in a civil lawsuit without proof of damage from NIS 50,000 to NIS 150,000.
Presenting the legislation in the plenum, Roisin said that an Economy and Trade Ministry report found 165,000 women reported sexual harassment in the workplace last year, but cited a different poll that 92 percent of women who were harassed do not complain.
Sexual harassment has an economic price, Roisin added, as 11,000 victims left their jobs last year, and those who don’t often become more productive.
The Meretz MK estimated that the non-productiveness brings a lost of NIS 13,500 per victim each year and that the Economy Ministry calculated that a billion shekels are lost annually due to sexual harassment in the workplace.
“By raising the maximum compensation, the punishment for harassment will be increased. As such, the deterrence will increase, because the defendant will have to pay a high price on the criminal and civil level,” Roisin explained in the bill’s explanatory portion.
The legislation passed with 36 in favor and none opposed.
Also Wednesday, the “Sex Tape Bill,” criminalizing the dissemination of nude or sexual photos or videos without permission, passed a preliminary reading.
The legislation proposed by MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) would make posting such photos or videos a criminal act of sexual harassment that carries up to five years jail-time.
According to Kariv, publicizing sexual videos and pictures “is not a prank; it is a systematic phenomenon that needs to be taken care of and stopped.” The bill passed with 42 MKs in favor and none against.