Don't Report Sexual Harassment, Many Female Soldiers Seem to Think

37 percent of female IDF soldiers who report they were sexually attacked or harassed refuse to pursue the complaint.

Some 37 percent of female Israel Defense Forces soldiers who report they were sexually attacked or harassed refuse to pursue the complaint, according to an IDF report.

The report was delivered Tuesday to the Knesset Committee of the Status of Women by Col. Leora Rubinstein, the deputy adviser on women's affairs to the IDF chief of staff.

Rubinstein told the MKs that in 2008 some 363 sexual harassment complaints were filed, mainly by female soldiers doing their compulsory service.

Tuesday's discussion in the committee followed a bill proposed by MK Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu) following a survey in the IDF that showed that one in seven female soldiers reported sexual harassment, either verbal or physical.

In contrast to other surveys, Rubinstein reported a decline of 6 percent in the number of female soldiers complaining of sexual harassment.

Committee chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Tuesday: "The gap between the female soldiers who stated in the survey that they were sexually harassed and the number of reports officially filed in the army show that many soldiers prefer not to complain. Even among those who do complain, 37 percent chose not to pursue any further action whatsoever.

Hotovely also said: "The process takes about a year, while a female soldier's entire service is two years, causing complainants to think twice whether to pursue the matter," and that the process should be streamlined.

The executive director of head of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Michal Rosin, told the lawmakers that the data showing one in seven female soldiers has been a victim of sexual harassment is compatible with the association's data.

In 43 percent of the cases, those accused of harassment were male soldiers also in compulsory service. In 5 percent of sexual harassment cases the victim was male.