O. Steps Into the Light

Dr. Orly Innes' decision to come forward is a valuable contribution to the fight against sexual harassment and other sex-related offenses.

The decision made by Dr. Orly Innes to reveal her face and name last Thursday, at a rally marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, was a brave one. "Complainant O" of the scandals involving Uri Bar-Lev and Hagai Peleg - the leading candidate for police commissioner and the former director general of the Public Security Ministry, respectively - transformed into Dr. Innes, and made a valuable contribution to the fight against sexual harassment and other sex-related offenses.

Most complainants in similar affairs have preferred to keep their identities concealed. Considering the mudslinging subsequently aimed at such complainants and the crass violations of their privacy, this decision is completely understandable. But facing the public with your name and face out in the open can actually help undermine such unmerited and illegal slurs, and actually empower those complainants who have already revealed their identity.

Making such a brave decision is not easy, but we should hope that other complainants will follow in Innes' footsteps. It was much easier for detractors to besmirch the faceless O. than Dr. Orly Innes, who spoke determinately at last week's rally.

Much remains unknown in the Bar-Lev affair, and we must await the results of the Justice Ministry's probe to know whether we're facing a case of horrific libel or an actual crime. Until then, there is little need to go poking through complainants' background, habits or private lives, while spreading rumors and insinuations. Such factors have absolutely nothing to do with whatever actually happened during the incident in question.

And if they are certain that their complaints are truthful, the accusers have no reason to be ashamed or to hide. There should be no difference between a person who complains about a break-in or theft, who usually appears out in the open in the media, and one who complains of sexual harassment or rape.

We should hope that what took place Thursday outside the Tel Aviv Museum is an omen of what is to come: That other complainants will follow suit, standing up bravely and openly - and not only in interrogation rooms, but before the public as well. Perhaps, in this way, they will prevent the shameful sight of their pasts and their private lives being picked through, simply to slur them and undermine their complaints, as opposed to uncovering the facts.