Livni seeks to educate judges about sex crimes
Justice minister sends letter to court administrator, calling on him to require judges to pass training on sexual harassment, rape in wake of series of inappropriate remarks by judges. Livni expresses hope that training can ‘change unacceptable social perceptions’
Livni is taking further steps to tackle the phenomenon and has made an appeal with the court administrator, Judge Michael Spitzer, asking him to introduce a new procedure consisting of trainings on the subject of sexual offenses, to avoid similar situations.
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"The inappropriate remarks by judges recently brought before us," the minister wrote, "indicate the need and importance for professional training for judges dealing with sexual harassment and rape."
She requested that the training deal with, among other things, the consequences of sexual assault in criminal law, and that it be incorporated in the training of every judge. Today such workshops are already an integral part of the training of police officers involved in questioning victims.
In her letter, Livni explained that she believes that “alongside comprehensive legal education, which is an indispensable asset of judges, training of judges by professionals from theraputic and law backgrounds, in collaboration with sexual assault aid centers, you can add essential knowledge and a deep understanding of the consequences of sexual assault and how to understand it in a legal proceeding." According to her, "These have the power to change improper social perceptions.”
Livni referred to recent incidents related to the issue, and made it clear that "these statements which came out of the mouths of judges are very serious and hurt men and women in Israeli society in general, and rape victims in particular. Statements of these nature indicate misconceptions about women, including the view that guilt for attack is imposed on the victim. This is about twisted perceptions against which women staged a long and important social struggle that made significant and vital changes to Israeli society."
“Needless to say," added Livni, "harmful statements such as this, when they come out of the mouths of judges who are entrusted with protecting human dignity and equality, severely impair public confidence in the judicial system."
Earlier this week, Livni referred to an announcement that Judge Yeshaya would resign from his post and noted that “this is the right and only move in this serious situation. Only thus will the public’s trust be returned to the judicial system. All judges need to know they are under scrutiny and must conduct themselves in a manner becoming those entrusted with safeguarding the law and deciding the fates of others."
Yeshaya was called to an urgent meeting to qualify the issue with Judge Spitzer, and in the meeting he stated his desire to step down from his position as head of the committee for victims of terror acts. He made the controversial statement during a hearing on the rape six years ago of a 13-year-old girl by four Palestinian youths from the Shuafat refugee camp, Army Radio reported.
Less than two months ago, a judge at the Petah Tikva Traffic Court retired following allegations that he directed a sexist remark at a female prosecutor.
Justice Shlomo Nachshon Ettinger, a judge at the Petah Tikva Traffic Court, was suspected of resorting to sexist language in the courtroom, insulting a number of female typists, showing contempt to colleagues and litigants, as well as smoking in prohibited places.
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