Complainant ready to launch campaign for sex crime victims
O., the woman who accused outgoing director general of the Public Security Ministry, Hagai Peled, and police Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev of sexual assault and harassment, plans to wage a public campaign calling for more protection against victims of sex crimes.
In a meeting with women who offered their support in recent days, O. said: "There is a need for the public to fill the awful void created by the government's inability to protect victims of these crimes. Instead of being looked after, she is being delegitimized. Victims are pushed into a corner of paralysis. Nobody talks about past relationships of the perpetrator."
O. said that her position as a "well-connected member of the establishment" gave her the "strength that other women do not sufficiently possess to come forward." She said she will now make an effort to "leverage her position in the hopes of putting forth a plan that would offer protection to sex crime victims."
"Nobody protects victims of crime here," she said. "They are slinging mud any way they can and my hands are tied. I'm like a slaughtered chicken. Abandoning the victim of a crime of the kind that was committed against me is something that needs to be dealt with on a national level."
O. said that legislation is needed to limit media reportage of details and accusations about the private life of sex crime victims, similar to the stories that have been published about her past relationships. "We must formulate a plan that would give victims of sex crimes the legitimacy to come forward," she said. "Society must protect these women and not turn them into punching bags."
O. told her supporters that she does not regret leveling the accusations against Peled, nor is she sorry for giving statements against Bar-Lev to the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department. O. added that she did not anticipate the potent backlash that her actions sparked.
"I thought that this would reverberate somewhat given that we were dealing with the director general of a government ministry and a major general in the police force on one hand, and a woman with a doctorate on the other hand," she said. "But I didn't anticipate the invasion of my private life and the lies that are being spread about me.
"Certain individuals have an interest in diverting media and public attention from the main story, which is the abuse and the assault," she said. "I understand that if I were to come forward it would be a very difficult thing that would exact a heavy toll on the family. So I was fearful. Initially, I behaved like a classic victim of assault would behave."
When asked about the decision to come forward, she said: "I had a responsibility, not as O., the private individual, but as someone who is leading a national campaign of the kind that I'm leading. I couldn't just do nothing, and I spent a lot of time going back and forth."
O. said she has received support from her family and colleagues. "I trust the investigating agencies and am convinced that the truth will emerge in the end," she said. "I have no doubt that this is a serious, quality investigation."
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