Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mazuz on Ramon: Sexual harassment was overlooked

Photo: Niv CalderonPhoto: Gil Yochanan
Former Justice Minister Haim Ramon / Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz

Defending his decision to indict former justice minister, attorney general says Israeli society used to be 'chauvinistic,' encouraged women to 'stay home' and remain silent
by Aviram Zino
YNet News
December 4, 2006

As the trial of former Justice Minister Haim Ramon nears an end, public criticism over the decision to indict him for accusations of sexual harassment are intensifying.

On Monday, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz appeared before the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and defended his decision to indict Ramon.

"For year incidents of sexual harassment and sexual abuse were overlooked," he said, describing Israeli society as having been "chauvinistic."

He warned critics of his decision, saying: "The public campaign over the scandal will take us back to where civilized countries are no longer."

Mazuz shared with Knesset members the difficulties faced by female plaintiffs: "They tell them: turn your head, bow your head, stay home and don't complain. The number of complaints … of this kind is small in every society, even today."

Wiretapping regulations

Mazuz said women who decide to take action against offenders face difficult judicial and public challenges, and could be further burdened by the media if the defendants are public figures.

"Encouraging individuals to complain is important on every level," he said.

Mazuz said disputed cases like that of Ramon's should not be generalized. "Arguments or claims on a certain incident cause great public damage," he said.

Mazuz also responded to criticism of wiretapping regulations in Israel. "Every system has its shortcomings and failures, were are checking and drawing lessons," he admitted.

Mazuz also slammed legislators for waging a campaign to limit the rights of law enforcement authorities to wiretap, saying their decision to set up a parliamentary committee to review wiretapping regulations is vague since it fails to mention which law enforcement body should be reprimanded for misusing the procedure.


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