Women's Groups Urge Victims to Report Sex Assault by Bosses

Six years after Noa (not her real name) was repeatedly harassed and raped by her boss, she is still afraid to file a police complaint.

"I know that if I complain to the police he will not go to prison," she says. "He has a senior position and will slander me, spread lies about me. I will be fired and will have to go through hell again," she says.

Women's organizations say Noa is one of many sexually harassed and assaulted women who are afraid to complain about their superiors, believing that it would be of no use. Ten women's organizations, including Isha LeIsha (a feminist center in Haifa) and the Coalition of Women for Peace, are preparing a joint campaign against the support enjoyed by public figures suspected of sexual violence.

Six years ago, Noa's superior (today a senior official in a leading communications company), took advantage of her vulnerability - she was on the verge of divorce and couldn't afford to lose her job. He sexually molested her for months and raped her on three occasions.

"He used to tell me that the human resources manager wanted to fire me and he was protecting me. At the same time he'd say I was sexy and attractive, hinting that if I didn't put out I'd be fired," Noa says.

Even after her boss left for another company, Noa is still afraid to complain to the police. She fears that even today he could get her fired and that she would be blamed while those in charge of her would regard the attacker with empathy and understanding.

"For example, although Haim Ramon was convicted, he could still be finance minister. Ofer Glazer received a relatively light sentence and will return to the good life. Katsav's hearing is postponed repeatedly despite the evidence against him, while the complainant is being reviled," she says.

Women's organizations say that the establishment and the public in general tend to treat sexual molesters in senior positions forgivingly.

The campaign's goal is to explain that an understanding and forgiving attitude toward senior suspects of sexual violence undermines women's security and confidence, and deters them from complaining, says Dorit Abramovitz, campaign coordinator.

"It is intolerable. Seeing senior political figures accused of sexual offenses continue in their lofty positions harms our security as women and harms the safety of the victims, who would prefer to suffer in silence rather than complain," says Yahel S. Kurlander, of Isha LeIsha.

The campaign is set to begin in two weeks, and will be publicized through Internet banners and clips and street protests. Women's organizations are working on a bill banning individuals convicted of sexual offenses, regardless of turpitude, from serving in senior public positions.

Noa says she has no confidence in the legal system, which has chosen to abandon women like her while promoting senior economic and political figures suspected of sexual offenses.