Exploring Israel's systemic neglect of sex offense victims

Published date15 October 2021
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Because of the drugging, Ash does not know exactly the extent of the physical attack she experienced.

The last thing she remembers clearly was getting up to help pour wine for some of the 30 attendees of the meal, and then her memories are only unclear snippets until she woke up in the hospital seven hours later.

When she returned to consciousness at the hospital, Ash asked whether she had been examined and was told that, because she came in with her clothing on and was not alone with her assailant for very long, only a urine test was administered, which came back inconclusive. No physical exam of Ash was done, and she was later told by police that because she had not been raped, her hair would not be tested.

ONLY 6% OF women who are sexually assaulted report it to the relevant authorities, according to a survey by the Public Security Ministry. They don't even know about most of the instances.

One out of five women is raped, one out of seven kids – boys and girls – is sexually assaulted.

Time and time again, when victims are asked what they thought the biggest issues were, they said it was the consistent neglect by the police, the prosecution, welfare and the courts that left them feeling ashamed, guilt-ridden and worn out.

"Only the tip of the iceberg reaches law enforcement," Ayelet Rozin Bet-Or, legal adviser to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post regarding the statistics presented by the ministry.

She explained that one of the biggest issues faced by sexual assault victims is the "arbitrary" statute of limitations.

"Many victims experience the slap in the face in which the system says, 'We're not interested in the crisis you're going through,'" she said. "It's an arbitrary line that no one can explain. The perpetrator can sit in front of you and say, 'I assaulted a hundred kids. What can you do? There's a statute of limitations.'"

This is an ongoing battle among women's organizations: seeking an end to the red line that was drawn "thoughtlessly" that limits a person's ability to report a rapist.

From the moment that a woman decides to report someone for sexual assault, she is faced with difficulty.

Medical treatment

First and foremost, a victim of sexual assault seeking to report the attack or to be treated should go to a post-rape examination site – such as a Center for the Treatment of Sexual Assault Victims (TSAV Center) – so that forensic evidence can be collected, whether it be drugs or signs of sexual intercourse.

Tohar Shani Zeytun was raped on February 19, 2017, in a business meeting in "broad daylight."

She explained...

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