Bill to keep sex offense evidence for 50 years approved for reading

A bill that would mean that samples taken from victims of sex offenses would be saved for 50 years was approved for first reading in the Knesset.

A MEDICAL TEAM is seen working at the new biological emergency unit dedicated to COVID-19 at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, in Jerusalem, last year. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
A MEDICAL TEAM is seen working at the new biological emergency unit dedicated to COVID-19 at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, in Jerusalem, last year.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved in a first reading on Wednesday a bill that would mean that samples taken from victims of sex offenses would be saved for 50 years.

The samples will be stored in police evidence storage and will not be opened except at the victim's request.

A compromise was reached in a conflict between legislators and police regarding whether it would be possible to inform victims as to whether or not there was sperm in the sample collected without opening a criminal investigation.

Police were concerned that the information could be used to obstruct investigations, but reached a compromise in which victims could receive the information in hospital rape evidence collection and treatment centers.

Committee chair MK Gilad Kariv said that he intends to advance the bill with MK Merav Ben-Ari, who placed the bill, so that it is signed into law on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

WITH THE advent of COVID-19, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel has seen a 30% rise in calls or visits to its local centers countrywide. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)WITH THE advent of COVID-19, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel has seen a 30% rise in calls or visits to its local centers countrywide. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

"There is no way in an advanced country to say that the right of a person to know if she was raped comes second to the right of criminal investigation," said Kariv.

"It's hard to believe but no regulations concerning rape kits were enshrined in the law," said Israel's lobby against sexual violence, which said that they were responsible for the wording of the bill.

"The most important things were regulated in the committee today," added the lobby, listing them: only someone trained to collect evidence for a kit will be able to; a victim will be able to get information about the results of her kit without filing a complaint; and the kits will be preserved and cataloged in an organized manner. 

Finally, the lobby said that the bill will also set regulations for handling the hundreds of kits that are currently in hospital storage.