It came as some surprise to me to see that the number of sexual harassment claims in Israel has jumped substantially in the past year or so. In fact, it's up by as much as 12% according to a recent article in the Jerusalem Post. What isn't surprising is that in 70% of these claims, it's been a boss or some other superior who is accused of such impropriety.
When I read this article, my first reaction was, "what could possibly cause such a jump?". As it turns out, it's not necessarily an increase in actual cases of harassment, but that women are now feeling more empowered to report such instances.
In fact, in the past year in Israel, there has been much more focus on sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result, those who feel that they are victims of such harassment are more comfortable about speaking up.
This is a perfect example of how shining a light on a problem in the workplace can help to make the problem disappear. Don't get me wrong, this is a societal ill that isn't likely to ever disappear. However, it's good to bring such difficult or unpleasant subjects to light so that victims can feel secure in reporting such crimes.
Not talking about such topics or keeping them taboo simply forces victims to be victimized a second time. This can only result in an even worse working environment.
How Israel reacts to these results remains to be seen. We can hope that the bottom line means increased punishment for offenders.