Sharp rise in sexual harassment complaints at workplaces in Isael

Annual report of Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel sheds light on phenomenon of sexual assault in workplace. Number of complaints on harassment at work rises by 12% in 2008

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel will submit its annual report to the Knesset on Monday morning, this time focusing on a particularly touchy subject – sexual assaults in the workplace.

Last year the number of complaints regarding sexual harassment in the workplace rose by 12%. Reports on workplace harassment reveal that 81% of employees have complained of sexual harassment, 11.4% of them referring to rape and attempted rape, and 7.6% to indecent assaults.

In 2008 support centers received 37,526 complaints (7,793 of them new), compared to 40,518 complaints in 2007. Eleven percent of the complainants reported of sexual harassment in their place of work.

In 70.4% of the cases the attacker was the employer or supervisor, whereas in 14.3% cases it was a friend or an acquaintance. Sixty-three percent of the victims who have approached the centers are under the age of 18. In the passing year the number of complainants who have turned to the police has risen 11%.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the Shiluv Millward Brown institute for the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel was released ahead of a week marking sexual harassment awareness in the workplace.

The survey reveals that one-third of the Israeli public has been exposed to sexual harassment in their place of work, but many are not aware of the existence of a complaints supervisor.

More than half the public (54%) are not aware that sexual relations between employee and employer are forbidden, while 38% believe that sexual relations are permissible as long as both sides are consenting.

Michal Rosin, CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, says that “the issue of sexual assaults in workplaces has played a major role in the activity of the Association in the past few years.

“From an extensive activity of education departments in workplaces – including the training of executives, employees and sexual assault prevention supervisors – we have learned of a gap between the frequency of the phenomenon and the number of reports and complaints submitted regarding sexual assault in the workplace.

“There is no doubt that the enactment of laws has helped, but there is still a long way ahead before the law is implemented,” she added.

In 2008 the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel held 610 workshops and lectures to executives and employees and approximately 100 sessions as part of courses for sexual assault prevention supervisors at workplaces.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3741867,00.html



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