Women's Groups: Lecturer-student Sex Should Be Illegal

Petition to Education Minister follows decision to investigate Hebrew U. professor suspected of sexually abusing students.

Some 22 women's rights groups on Monday asked Education Minister Yuli Tamir to establish a set of rules which would forbid university professors from having sexual relations with their students.

The request was made following Hebrew University's decision to investigate Professor Eyal Ben-Ari for allegedly forcing students in his sociology and anthropology department to have sex with him.

The right groups wrote in their letter to Tamir that by not explicitly forbidding such relations, higher education institutions were assisting in the sexual exploitation of female students.

Last Wednesday, Hebrew University's Committee on Gender Issues resigned Wednesday to protest the university's discrimination against women.

"Every year, half of the Ph.D. graduates are women. It is unthinkable that 55 of the recent senior faculty appointments have been men, and only 11 women," said committee chair Rachel Elior, a professor of Jewish thought. "Eleven percent of the professors are women, and 89 percent are men," she said.

Before the resignation, the committee's nine professors held a stormy meeting under the shadow of the sexual harassment affair involving Ben-Ari.

Ben-Ari, a senior lecturer accused of sexual harassment by three former students, was arrested last month for allegedly forcing students and doctoral candidates to have sex in exchange for advancement and scholarships. Police have the names of seven students who were allegedly victimized by Ben-Ari.