Woman suspects she was sexually assaulted while hospitalized

A woman complained to police that she believes she was raped while hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, and police took days to respond to the report and open an investigation.

 Shaare Zedek hospital. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Shaare Zedek hospital.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

A woman hospitalized at a psychiatric institution complained that she was raped by a staff member and the complaint was not investigated by police for a number of days, Kan reported Sunday.

While hospitalized, the woman reported to her family that she suspected she was sexually assaulted after being given a strong sleeping pill and gave them her clothes and samples from her person, Kan reported.

Her family went to the police, but an officer went to the institution at the end of the week, days after the report was filed, according to Kan.

Both the patient and her father were told by senior institution staff that the complaint would ruin the life of the person against whom it was made, Kan reported. 

The police told Kan that "as soon as the complaint was received, an investigation was opened that is ongoing," adding that they will "continue to investigate the incident thoroughly and take all necessary actions to reach the truth."

This incident occurred just over a month after the body of Lital Yael Melnik, who was allegedly murdered by a 49-year-old nurse who worked at the psychiatric institute where she was previously hospitalized, was found in a shallow grave.

The body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)The body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)

After Melnik was found, women's organizations called attention to mental health service failings that may endanger patients and may have enabled Melnik's murder.

"We are not safe in the health system," said the head of Israel's lobby against sexual violence, Yael Sherer on Twitter.

Sherer also commented on systems in place for those hospitalized in psychiatric wards to complain saying that those who complain are met with "mistrust, contempt and sometimes actual sanctions from staff." Sherer also commented on police handling saying that patients who complain "certainly are not granted the trust of the police."

"In a place where there is no chance of a sanction, sexual violence runs rampant and opportunists go to town."

After the prosecution considered charging the nurse accused of killing Melnik with manslaughter instead of murder, Melnik's family called to demonstrate against the decision outside the Haifa district prosecutor's office, said feminist news source Politically Corret.

Following the Health Ministry’s failure to provide information on sexual violence against patients by healthcare staff under the Freedom of Information Law, Israel’s lobby against sexual violence submitted a complaint to the Justice Ministry in October.

“The fact that the Health Ministry is not doing anything to put a stop to [sexual violence of staff against patients] is a disgrace on its own,” but its willingness to break the law to keep information about the scale of this [violence] quiet is a red flag, the lobby said in a statement.

The lobby said its request was submitted in July, but the Health Ministry had failed to release the information within the legally allotted 30 days.

The lobby said it has been raising alarms for years about the Health Ministry’s failure to address cases of sexual violence toward patients committed by staff. Its requests for information are usually met with apathy and sometimes with resistance, it said.