98% of Sexual Harassment Victims in Israel Don’t Complain to Police, According to Gov’t Poll

Sense of personal safety is lowest in Jerusalem district, highest in northern Israel and the West Bank.

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A student demonstration at Tel Aviv University against handling of sexual harassment complaints.
A student demonstration at Tel Aviv University against handling of sexual harassment complaints.Credit: Alon Ron

An overwhelming majority of Israelis who experienced some form of sexual harassment last year — 98 percent — did not file a police complaint, nor did 60 percent of victims of theft. That, according to the findings of a survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics for the Public Security Ministry.

The survey polled 7,150 people using phone interviews as well as online and mail questionnaires.

Extrapolation from the sample suggests that 714,000 Israelis aged 20 and up — 14 percent of the population — were the victims of crime last year. The most common offense reported to pollsters was online harassment, which 6 percent of respondents reported experiencing, followed by theft (5.2 percent) and actual or threatened violence (3.3 percent). Of the respondents, 1.8 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment in the previous year, or 95,000 Israelis when extrapolated to the whole population, without considering sampling errors.

Of the respondents who told pollsters they were victims of sexual harassment, 98 percent said they did not report the crime to the police. Likewise, 60 percent of thefts, 56 percent of violent incidents and 91 percent of online harassment incidents were not reported.

Respondents who did file complaints were asked to rank their satisfaction with how the police handled them. The proportion of respondents who reported dissatisfaction was 69 percent for victims of violence, 61 percent for victims of theft and 59 percent for victims of online harassment.

Of the respondents, 73 percent said they felt safe or very safe walking around their neighborhoods after dark. The lowest sense of personal security was reported in the Jerusalem district, with only 65 percent of respondents saying they felt safe, compared to 81 percent in the West Bank and 78 percent in northern Israel.

Men generally reported feeling safer than women, especially over age 65, with 78 percent of men and just 54 percent of women over 65 saying they felt safe walking in their own neighborhood at night.

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