In 2007, IDF Women's Affairs Advisor, Col. Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, received 318 complaints of verbal and physical harassment. In 2011, her office handled 583 complaints. The number of complaints that led to official investigations has climbed from 94 in 2007 to 144 in 2011.
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According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the data were published as part of a project advocating women's rights, promoted by the Israeli Movement for Freedom of Information. "The demand for information and transparency is a powerful 'weapon' in social battles such as this, for it discloses real data about what is actually happening," said Alona Winograd, director of the Movement for Freedom of Information, who motioned for disclosure of the information regarding reports of sexual harassment in the IDF.
"The fact that the IDF chose to share this information with the public should set an example to others. As defense organizations are predominantly led by men, it is important that the public knows that women's safety is cared for."
According to a senior officer at the IDF Manpower Directorate, it is hard to determine whether the rise in the number of complaints indicates a rise in the number of cases of sexual harassment, or rather a rise in awareness to the issue and the duty to report.
"The greater number of complaints could be the result of a campaign we've initiated, relating to sexual harassment, and of the fact that we've instructed every commander and soldier who hears about sexual harassment to immediately report it. We have also opened a center for victims of sexual harassment, to offer support," official said.
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