1 in 6 female soldiers report sexual harassment in IDF

The majority of female soldiers who reported being sexually harassed said they had been harassed more than once during their service.

Israeli soldiers of Caracal battalion (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
Israeli soldiers of Caracal battalion
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)

One in six female soldiers declared that she had been sexually harassed during her service, an internal IDF survey found.

The survey was conducted by the Chief of Staff's Gender Advisor, who sent thousands of female soldiers and officers anonymous questionnaires.

According to the survey the vast majority of the female soldiers said that they had been harassed more than once during their service, with 6% saying they had been harassed two or three times and another 3% responded that they had been harassed four times or more.

The data of survey, which is conducted every two years, relates to 2016 and questions were asked regarding cases of sexual harassment in the IDF as well as the awareness, reporting culture, and treatment provided to victims.

According to a statement by the IDF spokesperson’s unit, the survey did not indicate an increase in the number of female soldiers and officers who reported experiencing sexual harassment but the amount of respondents stating that they experienced sexual harassment four or more times is the highest level since 2004.

The survey also found that while there was still a significantly high feeling among female soldiers that there is an atmosphere of sexual harassment at 60%, the number has gone down from 65% in the last survey two years earlier.

The report noted a gap between the number of female soldiers who directly reported sexual harassment and the number who said they experienced disturbing or embarrassing behaviors.

Additionally, verbal harassment is more common than harassment of a physical nature.

There has been several cases of rape and sexual harassment over the past year, with a soldier pleading guilty in August to raping a female soldier in his unit multiple times. The soldier, who was arrested in April, was sentenced to between 24 and 30 months in prison as part of a plea bargain and will have an additional suspended sentence. He will also be demoted to the rank of sergeant to private and pay damages to the victim.

Another soldier was indicted in July for indecent behavior and raping a female soldier in his battalion.  While he admitted having sexual relations with her he insisted that it was consensual and not rape.

In May an IDF soldier from the co-ed ‘Bardalas’ (Cheetah) battalion was arrested for allegedly raping a female soldier from his unit on the base where the two soldiers are stationed. The soldier was taken into custody by military police after the victim filed a complaint with authorities.

In April two soldiers who served in supporting roles as drivers in IDF's elite naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, were arrested following a complaint filed by by a female soldier serving with them on the Atlit base near Haifa. According to the complaint, the two were drinking alcohol in a vehicle on base and then sexually assaulted her. The two soldiers also claimed that the sex was consensual.

The recent case of Brig.Gen. Ofek Buchris who faced 16 charges of sexual assault caused sharp public outcry.  Buchris’ charges include counts three of rape and six of indecent acts against a lower-ranking female soldier, as well as another 6 counts of indecent acts against a second female soldier. Buchris later admitted to the charges as part of full plea bargain reached with the military prosecutor and was demoted in rank to Colonel without having to serve any jail time.