There are nine Rape Crisis Centers (RCCs) in Israel, which assist tens of thousands of people annually and is the only organisation in Israel whose main aim is to eradicate the scourge of sexual violence at the national level.
Statement of Need
Sexual violence is a violation of human rights. Tragically it affects many thousands of Israeli women and children and carries with it life-long repercussions for the victims’ health and wellbeing. Women who have experienced sexual violence are significantly more prone to addictions, mental health problems, and low self-esteem, which can collectively and independently wreak havoc on a person’s life. Yet the fight to end violence against women is grossly overlooked and underfunded by the government of Israel, leaving the lions’ share of the responsibility to grassroots, not-for-profit organizations.
Statistics on sexual violence are staggering, revealing that one in every three women in Israel is sexually assaulted or harassed in her lifetime and one out of every six children are victimized as well.
Programs offered by the RCCs include practical and emotional support for victims; training for individuals and families; a 24/7 crisis hotline; and the accompaniment of victims as they navigate their way through the complicated and difficult process of recovery. The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI) is the umbrella organization for these nine centers, and focuses on taking cases from the field and harnessing their stories to bring national change. As the leading player on the national scene, ARCCI works to bring about new and improved legislation; advocates on behalf of victims; offers training sessions for many large public-sector organizations including the IDF, IAF and the Police Force; works with law-makers and health professionals; and acts to increase overall public and official awareness of this crime.
The unique services given by the RCCs
The RCC uniqueness is in providing long-term support and guidance to survivors of sexual violence, anonymously and non-judgmentally, according to the will and needs of each survivor. Their goal is to help survivors reclaim their lives, regain control and overcome the cycle of loneliness, self-accusation and shame. They aim to improve their well-being and their ability to cope in their everyday lives, and to allow them to choose the treatment and recovery process that suits them best. RCC operates a hotline 24/7 staffed by volunteers, 365 days a year.
In an attempt to reduce the frequency of sexual assault incidents the ARCCI and the RCCs work tirelessly to create up-to-date programs that both meet the needs of the victim and address public sentiment.
- Raising national awareness amongst the public, policymakers, legislators and stakeholders of the epidemic of sexual violence in Israel, by bringing to the fore the implications and consequences of this crime.
- Creating programs and workshops designed to protect children, including a Parents’ Project to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence and children at risk.
- Initiating laws, amendments and national policy changes to prevent the occurrence of sexual violence, to benefit its victims when it does occur, and to punish perpetrators, as well as providing legal counsel and advice.
- Advocating for the improvement of victim-care for survivors of sexual violence.
- Creating and implementing the “Voluntary Code” against sexual harassment in the workplace with the recognition and support of the Israel Standards Institute.
- Promoting a better understanding among medical professionals and other stakeholders of the complex issue of psycho-social disabilities and sexual assault.
- Conducting comprehensive training workshops for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, police, and other professionals that deal directly with sex crime victims.
- Offering a 24/7 volunteer hotline that offers emergency assistance, practical information and emotional support.
- Helping victims manoeuvre the complicated ‘after-care’ process including accompaniment through hospital examinations, personal counselling meetings, case management, referrals to therapists, and legal advocacy.
- Providing support groups for victims and families of victims of sexual abuse.
- Providing educational programs regarding mutual respect, healthy sexuality and equality.