Some 70% of sexual abuse reports from Israel Police and other security and law enforcement agencies were either not handled at all or not addressed adequately, according to a State Comptroller report published on Monday.
The special interim report on the protection of female soldiers found that the story that came to be known as the "Gilboa Prison affair" - which detailed Palestinian security prisoners sexually assaulting and raping soldiers - was only the "tip of the iceberg." The findings of the new report revealed a "disturbing organizational reality."
As part of the audit, an investigation team visited seven security prison facilities and interviewed approximately 150 conscription officers stationed there. The State Comptroller's Office also surveyed approximately 13,000 current and former soldiers.
The report found that 38% of female conscripts serving in the Israeli Prison system said that they experienced sexual abuse of some form during their service and that 70% of said abuse was committed by a permanent employee or a commander.
Less than half of those who claimed to have experienced sexual abuse said they reported the abuse, whether inside the organization they served in or outside. A whopping 70% of respondents who served in the police, the Shin Bet internal security service and the Border Police, and filed a sexual assault report, said that their complaint was not handled at all or handled inadequately.
In the Israeli military, 33% of female conscripts said they were sexually harassed at least once during their service, and 32% reported the abuse to a relevant supervisor. Roughly half of those who filed a report said they were satisfied with the handling of their complaint.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman noted in the report: "It is not possible to justify a reality in which one out of four conscripted soldiers in the police and the Shin Bet experienced sexual abuse.
We must not show leniency for the fact that 70% of the complaints were not handled properly, and it is not possible to move on when the trends show sexual harassment by security prisoners, the lack of backing from the command level, and sexual harassment from permanent employees toward female soldiers and conscripts."
Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.