Over 121,000 cases of sexual harassment were reported in Israel in 2017, according to a recent research done in conjunction with the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The research's findings will be presented to the Knesset next week, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
While awareness of sexual harassment has increased over the past year thanks to the #MeToo campaign, there has been no data collected in Israel about the extent of this serious crime so far.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is marked on November 25. It will also be the 20th anniversary since the Knesset passed the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law.
Ahead of these two events, the Chairman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Joint List), approached the Knesset Research and Information Center (RIC) and asked for information on sexual harassment cases in Israel.
Consequently, the RIC presented its sexual harassment report, written by RIC employees Dr. Nurit Yachimovich-Cohen and Orly Almagor-Lotan, who collected the data in cooperation with the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The research included 7,000 participants over the age of 20. According to its findings, 2.2% of those surveyed, which amounts to more than 121,000 Israelis, have experienced sexual harassment in 2017.
79% of the victims are females, mostly young women between the ages of 20 and 35. In addition, 32% of sexual harassment cases happen in the workplace.
The study also finds that 97% of the victims refrained from filing a police report. The reasons behind this findings are varied: 25% of the victims did not report the crime because they believe their specific case is "of less importance," 19% did not complain out of fear "the police won't be able to handle" their case, and 13% did not complain because "the police are not interested in investigating the incident."
"Women still suffer from sexual harassments at home, on the street, in academia and in the workplace," said Touma-Suleiman. "In this reality, despite the recent conceptual changes, women still feel defenseless."