Israel Is Failing Minor Victims of Violence, Sexual Offenses, State Comptroller Says

Social Affairs Ministry has not reached commitments on establishing treatment centers, notes report.

Shiran Granot

In his report on how the state dealt with the treatment of minors who are victims of sexual offenses and violence, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira noted that the Social Affairs Ministry has not established the number of centers for such treatment that it had committed to. By April 2013 the ministry was to have established eight such centers, but by August 2014 it had only established five, and then only after the High Court of Justice intervened.

The comptroller also found that the Social Affairs Ministry and other bodies failed to make the public and professionals sufficiently aware of the existence of the new centers, especially in the Arabic-speaking community. On its website, the ministry only reported the existence of two of the five centers.

Although the Social Affairs Ministry began to prepare instructions for the operation of these centers as far back as 2008, it has still not completed the instructions. De facto, therefore, the centers work independently and oversight is not conducted inherently.

The comptroller also found that psychiatric treatment in centers dealing specifically with sexual violence against minors is not readily available.

Minors who are victims of violence are not receiving suitable, readily available treatment that is free of charge, as has been arranged for minors who are victims of sex crimes. The extent of treatment offered to minor victims of violence depends on what the local authority where the victim lives has available, and whether the family can pay for it.

The Social Affairs Ministry responded that “in recognizing the importance of both short- and long-term treatment of minors who are victims of violence and sexual offenses, it had begun establishing treatment centers,” and that by 2014, it had established six centers for short-term victims of sexual offenses and physical violence.

“In October the ministry renewed the process of establishing two more centers, in Safed and Netanya, after the centers that were to have been opened under the auspices of the organization Eli did not open and the mandate for their establishment was returned to the ministry. We expect the process of establishing these two centers to be completed in the coming months.”

The ministry said it had also “completed the acceptance of 12 centers for long-term treatment of victims of sexual violence under the ministry’s responsibility, funding and operation.”