Organization presents troubling results of mixed service

Knesset committee discusses religious female soldiers, 'Chotam' organization brings statistics on sexual harassment.

Yedidya Ben-Or ,

Religious female soldiers
Religious female soldiers
Aluma Organization

The Knesset's Committee for the Advancement of Women on Monday morning discussed the needs and difficulties of religious women in the army, as part of a day honoring religious female soldiers.

The discussion was initiated by religious-liberal MKs who support drafting religious girls into the army, despite the Chief Rabbinate's ban, and is expected to include a discussion on the IDF's readiness and ability to accomodate religious female soldiers, as well as representatives of organizations who encourage religious girls to draft, and who will explain how much the public wants appropriate frameworks for female religious soldiers and how it helps the soldiers themselves.

The Aluma organization, which helps teens find their place in the army or National Service, claims a poll showed that 37% of religious female soldiers became more religious during their time in army rather than less. On the other hand, only 26% of religious girls who did National Service said the same, possibly because they were already more religious and obeyed the Chief Rabbinate ruling against army service for women.

"Chotam" representatives who arrived at the meeting intend to present additional findings, which may not be in line with those of the others. Chotam, whose president is leading religious Zionist figure Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, aims to promote Jewish values and identity in the Jewish state so that the country's spiritual state advances along with its economy, scientific research and social progress.

In a slideshow, Chotam is expected to present poll results showing that 70% of parents recommend their girls do National Service instead of army, as Israeli law allows, and only 12% believe their daughter should joiin the IDF.

Chotam will also present data showing how many religious girls have joined the army in the past 16 years. According to statistics, the number of religious girls int the IDF in the year 2000 is nearly identical to the current number. In fact, the number dropped in the years following 2000, and only recently returned to its previous position.

The organization will also present a booklet of different statistics, showing that 45% of religious girls who draft into the IDF become less religious or non-religious during their army service.

In addition, one out of every 8 female soldiers experiences sexual harassment or abuse during her time in army.

In their booklet, Chotam will discuss the various dilemmas faced by religious girls, and question if their army service actually contributes to the IDF's efficiency and effectiveness.

"We are happy to be able to present religious girls with the tools they need to make the right choice and serve in a meaningful fashion," Chotam said. "We are proud of our girls, and of their desire to contribute to our country via National Service."

"We see great importance in helping these girls to make the right decision about the framework in which to serve.

"These girls must be familiar with the consequences of each choice they make. These are choices which significantly influence the girls' future, and unfortunately there are those who mislead the girls, and do not present the entire picture.

"This is what we are here to do."