Knesset panel: Law not enough to bar harassment

Female MKs want solutions to encourage women to come forward.

Emanuel Rosen 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Emanuel Rosen 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The laws against sexual harassment failed, because they do not protect women from future offenses, said MKs, activists and journalists Monday at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women on sexual harassment in media organizations.
The meeting was called in light of a police investigation of former Channel 10 diplomatic analyst Emmanuel Rosen following accusations that he harassed dozens of women.
“We will turn to media organizations and remind them that they must have someone in charge of receiving harassment complaints,” committee chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said. “In the last week I received many complaints from young women working in the media who said that instances of harassment in their workplace are not isolated, and that this is a widespread phenomenon.”
According to Lavie, women are scared to complain because they do not want to lose their jobs. As such, despite the fact that the law requires employers to appoint someone to be responsible for dealing with sexual harassment cases, many victims do not have where to turn.
“There usually isn’t any preventative activity or education on the topic. Even when there is someone with that job, many of the female employees don’t know she exists,” the Yesh Atid MK explained.
MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) called to strengthen those responsible for receiving complaints about harassment and give them professional training.
A representative of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said that 68 percent of people who know about a case of sexual harassment or assault did not report it.
Political blogger Tal Schneider, a member of the Women Journalists’ Forum, which uncovered the Rosen case, recounted that Channel 2 fired the high-profile reporter, and as such did what the law required.
“Even though the person dealing with harassment cases did her job and Rosen was fired, the result is a total system failure. The phenomenon was allowed to continue, and more women were hurt. They acted according to law, and the problem wasn’t solved,” Schneider stated.
“I am calling all managers – we are in a time of crisis,” Schneider added. “This is the time to call all of your workers and tell them to talk to you. I haven’t heard of anyone doing that. Tell them that you’re open to listen.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On announced that she is proposing a bill that will require employers to publicize that they fired workers because of sexual harassment complaints.
“The Emmanuel Rosen case reveals a loophole in the law.
Channel 2 did the right thing by investigating the case and ending his employment, but by not reporting it, they led to the continuation of his harassing women in his new workplace,” Gal-On said.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) also called for increased transparency in cases of harassment, pointing to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Natan Eshel, who, due to complaints of inappropriate behavior towards a female PMO employee, made a deal with the Civil Service Commission that he could not be employed by the government.
“A deal was made in back rooms, and the attacker can continue having an influence, while complaining about persecution,” she said.
Roisin pointed out the unique situation in media organizations: “Members of the media cannot be seen as regular workers. They aren’t elected by the public, but their status is similar to MKs, ministers, judges and mayors.”
Liat Klein of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said that in the media, as opposed to other places of employment, it is not always clear who is the manager.
“A male ‘talent’ is not necessarily the direct manager of a female researcher, and it is not always clear who is subordinate to whom, but it is clear that he has more power than her,” Klein explained. “Therefore, the concept of consensual relations in this situation is very problematic.”