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Woman filing rape complaint investigated instead for quarantine violation

CM 01/08/2021

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An Israeli woman who filed a report with authorities for a rape she suffered on a trip to Sinai was summoned for an investigation by Israel Police for coronavirus quarantine violation, and a friend who accompanied her to the hospital was fined for quarantine violation, Kan reported on Sunday.
The women, who were on a trip together, contacted police from Sinai and were told to return to Israel, Kan reported. After returning, they went to the hospital. They were met there by an officer who was called to take their report, but instead summoned the victim for questioning and fined the woman who accompanied her, Kan reported. 
Police confirmed that the woman was summoned for questioning on quarantine violation — saying that she was summoned with the “necessary sensitivity,” Kan reported. Police also told Kan that her friend was fined legally, but the cancellation of the fine due to the circumstances is being considered.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev recently appointed an advisor on violence against women and will examine ways to improve the manner in which these cases are handled by officials and the resources for women. This review may be critical as numerous organizations have expressed concern over police handling of sexual offense cases.
Organizations combating sexual violence and rape culture that have criticized Israel Police include Jerusalem’s branch of the SlutWalk organization.
The organization changed its name to “Abandoned.” The group explained the change in a Facebook post, stating that the word abandoned “highlights the treatment we get from the state: the victim-blaming that we encounter from police; the ease with which violent men are released back to their homes to continue to harm women; [and] authorities that release rapists and attackers – if they are punished at all.”
Israel Police regularly mishandle sexual offense cases and mistreat the victims of these cases, according to preliminary findings of a new study by the University of Haifa Clinic for Legal Feminism that was published last month. 
The study, which involved speaking with 40 women who survived sexual trauma, found that nearly half of those who went to police to file complaints about sexual offenses were asked questions irrelevant to their case, such as detailed questions about their sexual history. The study also found that 80% of respondents whose first language is not Hebrew were not provided a translator when filing their complaints.
Some 80% of study participants also said that their complaint never resulted in an indictment. Victims reported that they were not made aware of their basic rights, such as the right to speak with a female officer or the option to have a volunteer from one of Israel’s rape crisis centers be present at meetings with police.
“Too often, we see the police fail to collect evidence, ask questions in a sensitive manner and lack the adequate training needed to deal with someone who survived sexual trauma,” said Vardit Avidan, a lawyer and staff member at the clinic, supported by The David Berg Foundation. “As a result, women tend to leave a police station feeling even more defeated than before.”
Police handling of sexual offense reporting recently made headlines when Israeli model Gal Gvaram recounted her experience of police mistreatment and indifference during the filing of a sexual harassment complaint against modeling agent Shai Avital last week at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa police district headquarters.
Following the incident, both Israel Police and Bar Lev apologized to Gvaram.
Shira Silkoff contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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