Tuesday 31 May 2016 - 10:20

Nearly all female Israeli lawmakers sexually abused

Story Code : 542428
A view of a session of Israel
A view of a session of Israel's Knesset
Of the total 32 current female lawmakers at the Israeli legislature, 28 revealed they had suffered from some sorts of sexual abuses in the past, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday, citing a survey conducted by Israel’s Channel 2.
The report added that two of the lawmakers, Michal Biran from the center-left alliance Zionist Union, and Merav Ben Ari from the centrist party Kulanu, experienced the harassment even after they had entered the Knesset.
“Even today, the fact that I’m a single woman in the Knesset puts me in unpleasant situations. Sometimes people make comments … I don’t want to elaborate, but there was a situation recently in the Knesset,” said Ben Ari, speaking of a recent incident in the Knesset building.
“There was an incident that repeated itself in the planning and building committee, of which I was a member. Another city councilor would make remarks of a sexual nature regarding things that I said, and the whole room would burst out laughing," said Rachel Azaria from Kulanu party.
"I consulted with the legal adviser and other officials, and they all said there was nothing to be done,” she said, recounting a bitter experience she had when she was a Jerusalem City Council member.
The lawmakers also exposed different kinds of other sexual abuses, which happened on military buses or on the streets.
In December, the Israeli interior minister and vice-premier, Silvan Shalom, was forced to resign after his ex-staffer revealed that she was sexually harassed by her boss and was “touched” against her will, giving details on how he had abused her more than a decade ago.
Subsequently, “several other women also alleged that the minister sexually assaulted them,” according to a December 20, 2015 Ha'aretz report.
The Israeli interior minister is by no means the first top Israeli politician to leave office over sexual misconduct.
Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav stepped down in 2007 on charges of raping two women as a cabinet minister in the late 1990s, as well as sexual assault against two of his female staffers as president.
The issue of sexual misconduct is also frequently reported in the Israeli military, which has given rise to heated debates over the past years.
The Israeli military itself says it has launched about 250 investigations into sexual abuse allegations over the past two years. Twelve of the investigations concern alleged rape, up from eight in 2014 and five in 2013.