Two-thirds of the more than 5,000 complaints of sex crimes that came into the police last year were lodged by minors. In all, sex crime complaints rose by 10 percent from the previous year, police figures show.
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Although most sexual offenses take place in the victim’s or offender’s home, the figures show people may be sexually assaulted or abused almost anywhere, any time − at work, school, in the IDF, in entertainment spots, on public transportation and on the Internet.
Almost 1,400 of the reports filed with the police were for rape and more than 3,000 others were for molestation. However, about half of the reports for sexual offenses were shelved and only some 2,000 were passed to the State Prosecutor’s Office for indictment.
The police provided the data at the request of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.
One out of every five offenses takes place in the victim’s home and about one in 10 takes place in the assailant’s home. In these cases the assailant is known to the victim. In 2012 alone, 1,076 such cases were reported to the police.
One of every five sexual crimes − 1,056 − takes place in the street, usually by an assailant unknown to the victim. Numerous other sexual offenses − 150 in 2012 − take place on public transportation, such as buses and at bus stations.
The association has decided to raise the issue of sex crimes in schools and among minors, says Orit Sulitzeanu, the NGO’s executive director.
She says two thirds − 66 percent − of all the complaints received by the centers in 2012 were made by minors. The association has produced a short film about sex crimes and is promoting public discourse on the issue.
Teen complaints way up
Since 2007 the number of reported sex crimes among teenagers in schools has soared by 45 percent, association statistics show. The 279 reports made during the year consist of 160 offenses committed in elementary schools, 65 in high schools, 36 in kindergartens, 16 in yeshivas and four in universities and colleges.
The most common offense against minors − more than 50 percent of the cases − is forcible molestation. About a quarter − 520 − of the sex crimes against minors are rape.
Police attribute the increased number of cases to the public’s heightened awareness, which leads more people to complain to the police and the rape crisis centers.
Sex crimes can only be exposed or addressed if the victim submits a complaint and agrees to talk about it, police say. However, both the association and police say the complaints are but the tip of the iceberg. According to police estimates, only 40 percent of sex crimes are reported, while association staff cite a far lower figure.
“It’s amazing that 66 percent of the reports we get are about sex crimes committed during childhood. For example, a woman of 25 calls over something that happened to her many years ago, but she is still having trouble coming to terms with it and realizing that she was the victim of a sex crime,” says Sulitzeanu.
“Only very few victims of sex crimes complain. Most of them don’t. We want every social worker, teacher and health professional to undergo training to detect sexual assault victims,” she says.
“The earlier we detect these cases, the better we can treat them. Our aim is to enable parents to identify sexual assault on their own children,” she says.
The Tair Rape Crisis Center holds workshops for schools to raise awareness for sex offenses.
“It’s very hard for children to talk about being sexually assaulted,” says the crisis center’s Yael Rembek.
“Today it’s even easier to commit sexual offenses on the social networks. Children should understand that these acts are crimes for all intents and purposes,” she says.