Children Are the Victims in 50 Percent of Sex Crimes in the Country

Minors are the victims in more than 50 percent of the sexual offenses committed in Israel every year, according to a police report to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The committee is discussing a bill to protect the public from sexual offenders. The police said that the past decade has seen 4,400 to 6,000 sexual crimes every year, with a relative being the perpetrator in 15 percent of the cases.

According to Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, the head of the National Council for the Child, the figures illustrate how important it is for the Knesset to quickly approve the bill mandating the monitoring of convicted sex offenders. "Every day that passes without a law endangers hundreds and thousands of children, who are easy prey for deviants and sexual predators," Kadman said.

MK Michael Eitan (Likud), chair of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, has been working in recent weeks to get the bill pass its second and third readings in the plenum before the House dissolves. The bill, originally proposed by former Hadash MK Tamar Gozansky seven years ago, has been opposed by the Finance Ministry because of the high cost of implementing it, and has been delayed by the Justice Ministry's work on its formulation.

The bill finally passed its first reading, but was once again halted by the Finance Ministry. Following a call for its passage by Kadman, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni decided to push the bill. It was therefore decided jointly with the Finance Ministry that the bill would receive funding of NIS 15 million, which would mean that only two of its three main elements would be implemented: risk evaluation and monitoring after release from prison. The third element, treatment and rehabilitation for sexual offenders, is much more expensive.

The bill calls for evaluation of the suspected offender during the trial and subsequent monitoring in keeping with the risk posed. Low-risk offenders will be required only to report their home and workplace addresses. Higher-risk offenders will have to report to a probation officer and will not be permitted to be present in places where they might commit another crime. Possession of pornographic materials or the consumption of alcohol by such persons would incur a two-year prison sentence. The offender would be monitored for a period of not more than five years; the court can reorder supervision for a maximum period of 20 years.

Monitoring will be carried out by the Prisons Service, which volunteered for the task after the police and the probation service refused to accept it.

A number of clauses in the bill are still being debated, among them the question of whether it would apply to sex offenders under 18, and whether it would apply to all sexual offenses, including indecent acts, for example, or just those considered more heinous.