The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is in turmoil in the wake of a report by the NGO “One of One”, which claims that 11 lecturers from the school performed lewd acts with female students, some of which amount to rape.
The Hebrew University’s official response has been that it is unaware of the cases that were brought to light by the report, but that it has filed a report with the Jerusalem police so they can pursue an investigation on the matter.
Only a month has passed since Mario Schneider, a professor at the university, was forced to leave his position after sexually harassing female students. According to witnesses, Schneider said among other things that, “I heard that all Yemenite woman are hot”. The same professor was forced to compensate another female student, Efrat Jacob, who was a victim of Schneider and who exposed his identity in a Facebook post.
The NGO’s report represents a troubling reality today in which the phenomenon of sexual harassment is more widespread than previously perceived.
“One of One”, which works toward helping victims of sexual violence, has demanded that the university hold an emergency session of the managing council, in light of the troubling rise in sexual harassment cases, and the lack of action by the university.
Gal Shargil, head of the NGO, claims that the university knew of five cases in which lecturers had sexually assaulted female students, including cases of rape. Some of these cases occurred during the current school year, and others occurred on the Hebrew University campus. Shargil additionally mentioned that the university knew of six other lecturers who were sexually harassing female students on an ongoing basis.
The group’s report additionally points the blame at the poor treatment that victims receive, stating that this treatment dissuades victims from filling reports, due to a number of built-in conflicts of interest.
The report goes on to point out that: “Three ad hoc committees have been created to fix the current system, to little avail. This serves to point to the university’s determination to deal with the issue. Thus it is important that the managing council take it upon itself to solve the ongoing problem, which is the reasoning behind our demand to hold an emergency session of the council, with a representative from our group on hand”.
The university has stated in response that: “The cases being referred to in the letter were never brought to the attention of the university, and we haven’t received a complaint or inquiry on the matter. The university has contacted ‘One of One’ to receive the information they have, in order to investigate the matter. The university has yet to receive a response. Additionally the university has filed a report with Jerusalem police in order to further investigate the matter.”
The Jerusalem police said in response: “A report was received today from the security chief of the university regarding the report by ‘One of One’, which claims several cases of sexual harassment against female students. An investigation into the matter has been opened”.
Likud minister Gila Gamliel, whose remit includes gender equality and the advancement of young people, said: “Regarding the law I passed on teacher-student relationships in academia, we are witnessing that female students still cannot study with peace of mind.
“This situation, in which the Israeli education system has turned into a place that fosters cases of sexual harassment and assault, requires an immediate debate in the Council for Higher Education. I plan on turning to the minister of education so that such a debate will occur at the earliest opportunity.”