Spike seen in Israeli women reporting sexual abuse after #MeToo

Groups note increase in calls to rape crisis centers following social media campaign and celebrity testimonies

Illustrative image of a victim of sexual harassment holding a note with the text 'me too.' (nito100/iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a victim of sexual harassment holding a note with the text 'me too.' (nito100/iStock by Getty Images)

The number of Israeli women reporting sexual harassment or abuse has reportedly increased dramatically in the wake of the #MeToo social media campaign and the numerous instances of high-profile stars, both at home and abroad, who have opened up about their own experiences.

Sexual assault centers across the country have seen a spike in reported cases in the past few weeks, according to a Wednesday report in the Ynet news website.

“There has been a large increase in the number of calls,” Orit Sulitzeanu, CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, told Ynet. “Some centers have seen an increase of 20 percent, but there are also some that have jumped by almost double.”

She said that many of the centers noted that some of the women were motivated to contact them because of the public discussion of the subject.

Galia Wolloch, president of Na’amat, an organization that work to advance the standing of women, told Ynet that the social media campaign led to a revolution.

“Women are changing the rules of the game. If until now women were silent, now they are not prepared to be silent and will not accept what happened,” she said. “There is no doubt that the discourse is about to change, and I am sure that men are taking note of this.”

Wolloch said the change could be attributed to the number of celebrities talking about the issues of sexual harassment and abuse.

“There is no doubt that when women in positions of power tell their personal story it gives power to every other woman, who thinks, ‘If that happened to her, then I can also reveal my story,'” she said.

Gila Oshrat, head of the Israel branch of WIZO, a women’s activist group, confirmed to Ynet that there had been an increase in the number of reports of abuse or harassment in the past few weeks.

“In the past, women did not know they could complain, but today they are no longer afraid,” she said. “The #MeToo campaign is proof that norms have changed, that a woman is not an object.”

The #MeToo campaign, sparked by sexual assault claims against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, saw women around the world share their experiences of sexual assault.

AFP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: