Thursday, January 3, 2019

Israel: no more name-changing; public shaming remains

News about irrational laws in Israel, via Haaretz:
The Knesset on Monday passed into law a bill that prohibits people convicted of sex crimes from changing their name. 
“The law came about as a response to complaints by women who were shocked to learn they had been in a relationship with convicted sex offenders in the past,” said Meretz MK Michal Rozin, who drafted the law. 
Seems to me that if those women had discovered that their partners were committing new sex crimes, Haaretz would have mentioned it, if not put it in the headline. Dozens of women shocked to learn their romantic partners have been molesting preschoolers! No reporter would fail to mention that. No publisher would have missed the chance to use that salacious headline.
“This had been hidden from them since the men had changed their names. We’re now letting the public and the victims protect themselves from people convicted of sex crimes.” 
Protect themselves from what? From being exposed as enjoying the company of a man who has changed his ways?

It would be much more useful to talk about how to prevent sexual abuse instead of ginning up fear of those who no longer commit sex crimes.
In explanatory notes to the law it says that every citizen is allowed to change his or her name or surname, but that convicted sex offenders could abuse this right in order to continue endangering the public under another name. The notes go on to say there is no dispute that a convict can open a new page in life, but that limits need to be in place. 
It is possible a name change could aid someone in criminal endeavors. Is that what has happened in Israel? Almost certainly not.
Habayit Hayehudi MK Moti Yogev, who helped draft the law, noted, “Coming right after 1,000 criminals, including sex offenders, were released from prison (due to overcrowding), this law is even more important. Systems don’t always work".  
Systems don't always work, true, and yet legislators cling desperately to one system that has been shown again and again to be an inarguable failure: sex offender registries.

After releasing 1,000 people from overcrowded prisons, legislators--again!--find that a new registry law makes them look tough on crime.