Israel Lags Behind West in Pedophile Legislation

By Dan Izenberg (The Jerusalem Post)
January 3, 2010

Israel lags behind the rest of the democratic world in legislation and other means of controlling pedophiles, legal experts said on Sunday, one day after police arrested twin brothers from Bnei Ayish in connection with the murder of a seven-year-old boy.

"There is a need for specific legislation regarding pedophiles," Dana Pugach, head of the Noga Center at the Ono Academic College, told The Jerusalem Post.

Currently, Israeli legislation deals with sex offenders in general. But Pugach said pedophiles were a special kind of sex offender, especially male pedophiles who are attracted to boys. They are the most prolific offenders, said Pugach, quoting research in the US which found that a single male offender attracted to boys attacks an average of 700 victims during his lifetime.

Israel has not done enough in many ways to cope with sexual offenses against children, she said. For example, it has not done enough to prevent pedophiles from making contact with children over the Internet. Furthermore, research has shown a close connection between those who collect pedophilic pornography on the Internet and pedophilic assaults.

Yet collecting Internet pornography or making obscene offers over the computer to children are not considered sexual crimes. Thus, even if such people are convicted of Penal Law violations, the violations are not considered sexual crimes and a law that went into effect two years ago calling for supervision of dangerous sexual criminals after they leave prison does not apply to them.

According to Pugach, Israel does not put enough emphasis on treating pedophiles in jail through the use of medicines and psychology. She said that research has shown that pedophiles cannot be cured and that experts talk about "managing" pedophiles rather than curing them. She added that the Justice Ministry was currently working on a bill dealing with the treatment of pedophiles.

She also said that Israeli courts are too lenient on juvenile pedophiles and often do not punish them severely enough and, therefore, they are not forced to confront the severity of their condition. The courts should send them to jail and begin medical and psychological treatment at the same time, she said.

She also said that the families of victims of pedophiles should be given a say on whether or not to impose restrictions on pedophiles once they have completed their jail sentence.

She added that the Justice and Welfare ministries should prepare more legislation to deal with the problem.

In an interview over the weekend, Yitzhak Kadman, head of the National Council of the Child, said there were at least 10 bills originally initiated by his organization that had been submitted by MKs for approval and were currently stuck somewhere along the legislation approval process.

Based on research conducted by the Knesset's Research and Information Center, Kadman said that Israel was lagging behind the US, Britain, Canada and Australia in one or more of the following categories: registration of sexual offenders, provision of information on sexual offenders to the public, supervision of sexual offenders, approval of up-to-date legislation regarding sexual offenders and establishment of bodies to fight against sexual offenses over the Internet.

In 2006, the Knesset passed a law calling for sexual offenders to be assessed regarding the danger they continued to pose after serving their time in jail. The law also called to supervise ex-convicts considered to pose a medium- or high-level threat after they were released.

But Kadman said that since the law went into effect, the supervisor unit has remained the same size even though it was now responsible for keeping tabs on 400 sexual deviants. "These units do not have sufficient tools - because of various holes in existing legislation - and financial, manpower and other shortages, to fulfill its task in the way we all want it to," he said.