9 out of 10 rape cases in Israel closed without charges — study

Assault and harassment complaints are up 40% in 5 years, including in the IDF, but indictments far and few between, annual report says

Illustrative picture of a #MeToo supporter of the online campaign against sexual abuse and harassment (nito100/Getty Images/iStock)
Illustrative picture of a #MeToo supporter of the online campaign against sexual abuse and harassment (nito100/Getty Images/iStock)

Nine out of 10 rape cases are closed by prosecutors without charge, according to an annual survey released Wednesday, which also found a significant increase in reports of sexual assault and harassment to the authorities.

The report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel found that in 2018, police opened 6,220 investigations into alleged sex crimes and harassment, including 1,166 of suspected rape, marking a 12% increase as compared to the previous year and a 40% rise from 2013.

Of the sexual assault and harassment cases completed by police and handed over to prosecutors to press charges, 83% were closed, and 17% resulted in an indictment. Some 91% of rape allegations did not yield criminal charges. All but one appeal against the closing of sex crimes cases were also dismissed (181 out of 182, or 99.5%), the report said.

The data collected by the organization also found that over half (52%) of jailed sex offenders did not receive psychological treatment.

Amid a rise in high-profile gang rape cases in schools, the report found that most victims (63%) of reported gang rapes in 2018 were underage girls between the ages of 12 and 18.

Reporting on sex crimes rose among the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces, where 1,706 complaints were submitted in 2018 (a 15% increase as compared to 2017). But there, too, just 165 cases were investigated by the relevant military authorities.

Orit Sulitzeanu, the executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said the figures underlined the “very disappointing” situation, in which awareness was up but enforcement lagged.

“The public awareness to trends of sexual violence has perhaps risen, but among  law enforcement there is nothing new,” she said Tuesday.

The vast majority (89%) of the 51,000 complaints received by the rape centers last year were related to attacks on women, while in 11% the victims were men.

The report was submitted to President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday.

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