Israeli female MPs faced sexual harassment: Survey

Jerusalem: At least 28 out the Israeli parliament’s 32 female members have experienced sexual harassment or assault, and at least two of the cases took place in the Knesset building, a recent survey has found.

The survey carried out by Israeli Channel 2 encouraged the lawmakers to speak openly about the challenges they have faced in their everyday life and at work, an RT online report said.

Two of the women, Michal Biran of the centre-left alliance Zionist Union, and Merav Ben Ari of the centrist Kulanu party, reported that they had been sexually harassed just recently, during their current term in Parliament.

“Even today, the fact that I’m a single woman in the Knesset puts me in unpleasant situations. Sometimes people make comments… I don’t want to elaborate, but there was a situation recently in the Knesset and I took care of it,” Ben Ari said. She was also harassed when she served in the army, Haaretz reported.

Rachel Azaria of Kulanu shared her experience as a member of a Jerusalem City Council.

“There was an incident that repeated itself in the planning and building committee, of which I was a member. Another city councillor would make remarks of a sexual nature regarding things that I said, and the whole room would burst out laughing. I consulted with the legal adviser and other officials, and they all said there was nothing to be done. It interfered with my ability to function and I was very distressed,” she said.

The survey was conducted by Channel 2 as part of a special project aimed at raising awareness of sexual harassment in Israel.

The data comes following the resignation of Israel’s Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who was forced to step down in December after being accused of sexual harassment by eleven women.