I Just Want to File a Complaint
"It was terrible. He asked my why I was only coming in now, and he belittled me and sent me away."
The post was put online by a model who had suffered sexual harassment and wanted to add her testimony to the others who have filed complaints against modeling agent Shai Avital. Tens of thousands watched the young woman -- Ashkenazi Jewish and on Instagram -- cry as she described the humiliation of being dismissed by an officer at the station's intake desk.
Once the story hit the news, the police apologized to the model and investigated the incident.
Sadly, for many -- women who may not have hundreds of followers on Instagram, who may come into the station wearing a hijab -- that dismissive attitude is the norm. And if they do manage to file a complaint and even to obtain a restraining order from a judge, that order can be meaningless if it is not backed up by police protection.
Over half of the women murdered in the Arab sector made numerous complaints to the police prior to being killed.
Apologies to all those women might be a start, but it would not be nearly enough.
Training for intake officers must include, specifically, sexual harassment and abuse, gender-based violence and sensitivity to women of different social strata and ethnic groups.
Officers especially trained in these particular crimes must be on-site or on-call to deal with complaints and complainants who may require in-depth interviews and assistance or follow-up actions.
Programs to protect women -- including but not limited to the police -- must be designed to be proactive, rapidly responsive and with the best interests of women at their core.
All women who file complaints with the police need to know their complaint has been taken seriously and will be investigated, that they can attain protection from threats, violence and fear, that they are treated equally under the law.