100% of foreign agriculture workers were sexually assaulted, expert says

Out of 654 Thai foreign workers questioned, all of them said they had been exposed to sexual assault.

A Thai worker picks Etrogs, a citrus fruit used in rituals during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in a grove in the southern community of Nave, near the border with the Gaza Strip and Egypt, October 6, 2014 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Thai worker picks Etrogs, a citrus fruit used in rituals during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in a grove in the southern community of Nave, near the border with the Gaza Strip and Egypt, October 6, 2014
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A report, uncovered during the Knesset's Special Committee on Foreign Workers on Tuesday, shows that all Thai foreign workers who work in Israeli agriculture have experienced some form of sexual assault at their jobs.

The report, compiled by immigration expert Dr. Yahel Kurlander and Dr. Shahar Shoham, detailed that out of 654 Thai foreign workers questioned, all of them said they have been exposed to sexual assault.

"The State of Israel has abandoned these women," Kurlander said. "A woman that wants to complain has no clear course of action."

"If a foreign worker is required to quit her job due to a complaint she filed, she is also, in fact, losing her place of residence," noted Shiri Lev-Ran, the commissioner for the rights of foreign workers in the Economy Ministry.

"Some are not even fully aware of all their rights."

IBTISAM MARA’ANA arrives for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem last month, at which the court overturned the decision of the Central Elections Committee to disqualify her candidacy in the election. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)IBTISAM MARA’ANA arrives for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem last month, at which the court overturned the decision of the Central Elections Committee to disqualify her candidacy in the election. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Representatives from the National Insurance Institute (NII) and Israel Police noted that their systems do not possess the necessary data for complaints from foreign workers and immigrants.

"We have data for complainants who are not Israeli citizens but that might also apply to tourists," a represenatative from Israel Police stated. According to the rep, some 4% of the 25,494 sexual assault complaints since 2017 were filed by non-Israeli citizens.

In response, committee head and Labor MK Ibtisam Mara'ana expressed her dismay over the lack of data and announced that a follow-up discussion will be held to ensure that the correct measures will be taken to change the situation.