In one its last legislative acts under former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the government passed the third reading of three significant bills to protect the rights of sexual assault victims. The first was to extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse as minors; the second was to expand the protection of victims before the confidentiality of their evidence is lifted. A third deals with evidence confidentiality. The statute of limitations bill will be extended by 10 years from 25 until the victim reaches the age of 35. The very short statute of limitations has discouraged victims from taking on a civil lawsuit.
The Chairperson of the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality, Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Photo: Knesset)
“There are very few crimes as horrific as sexual abuse of boys and girls,” said Chairperson of the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality, Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), who advanced the bill. “The least we can do as a society for those who have experienced sexual violence as minors is to give them the opportunity to sue those who harmed them, and those who were supposed to protect them and betrayed their commitment – not just in criminal proceedings and not just until the end of a short statute of limitations.” The bill will also apply the same statute of limitations to third parties, such as families and institutions, which knew of the abuse inflicted upon the minor and were negligent in preventing it.
“We have removed three significant barriers that prevented victims from suing the perpetrators and those who made it possible for them to be harmed,” Orit Sulitzeanu, CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI) which helped put the bill together, told The Jerusalem Post. “We believe and hope that it will help many women and men who were harmed in childhood to achieve justice,” she continued. “This is a very significant moment.”