Knesset Committee Approves Bill to Help Victims of Pedophilia

Just two days after the rape and murder of 7-year-old Leon Kalantarov, the government announced yesterday it would support a law providing psychological assistance to victims of pedophilia. The move comes amid revelations that at least 10 bills aimed at combating pedophilia and assisting victims of sexual abuse remain on hold, due to various legislative delays.

Yesterday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill submitted by MK Orli Levy (Yisrael Beiteinu), which states that the state will pay for psychological assistance to minors who have suffered violence or sexual abuse.

"Child victims are likely in the worst case to become adult offenders, and in other cases to become adults who are unable to integrate into society, and who will cost taxpayers more than if they were treated while still young," Levy said yesterday.

"In Israel one in three children will be exposed to sexual abuse. Minors who fall victim to such crimes are a vulnerable population, particularly if they have undergone severe trauma requiring immediate professional, costly and long-term psychological assistance," Levy added. "Until now the state would not fund this treatment. Thousands of sexually abused children are therefore deprived of the assistance they need for rehabilitation."

The Israel Prison Service keeps a partial list of convicted pedophiles who are believed to represent a public-safety threat after their release from jail. The list is intended to allow authorities to monitor previously a convicted pedophile should they have reason to suspect he could act again.

The legal basis for the list - a law enacted in 2006 after 12 years of debate - has so far only partially met its objectives. The registry does not include pedophiles who were not convicted or were imprisoned in recent years, nor does it list the residences of offenders not deemed to be threats.

The state has also failed to allocate adequate funds for recruiting personnel to monitor past offenders. The prison service currently employs only 10 such monitors, each of whom is responsible for up to 40 released felons.

As reported in yesterday's Haaretz Hebrew edition, the Knesset has failed on multiple occasions in recent years to enact laws allowing authorities to both monitor pedophiles and offer assistance to victims of child abuse. At least 10 such measures promoted by the National Council for the Child are "stuck" in the legislative process for various reasons, including funding, opposition from various government offices or loss of interest among lawmakers.

Among the laws submitted to the Knesset is a 2006 measure for the chemical castration of pedophiles, and another requiring the state to notify a victim of sexual abuse when his or her assailant is released from prison.

Today, the law requires only that the state notify the victim's family if the offender is in prison. If the perpetrator is a minor and held in a juvenile-delinquent facility, the state is not obligated to notify the victim's family upon his release.