Sisterhood Blog

Danger in Doubting Women's Tales of Sexual Assault

By Elana Sztokman

  • Print
  • Share Share

A 27-year old woman from Pardes Hanna committed suicide after the police released the prime suspect in her rape. The suspect is a former police officer in the Hadera police station in Israel — the very same station where the woman went to complain. In other words, the man was believed and let go by his former colleagues. The story and its aftermath raise issues about the way rape victims are treated in Israel, and about the old boys’ network that seems to permeate some of the country’s police departments.

According to reports in Ynet, the woman, a divorced mother of one studying graphic design, committed suicide on April 3, after filing two complaints about rape and undergoing a forensic medical examination. The police have confirmed that she filed these complaints and claimed that they began a proper investigation before releasing the man. However, one officer, police superintendent Yehuda Maman, bizarrely denied this and told reporters that she only came to wish the police officers a happy Passover.

The police who arrived on the scene after her death found detailed descriptions of her alleged attacks. According to her family members, after she filed her first complaint about being raped and identified her attacker, the police briefly interrogated the suspect — reportedly, he had been fired from the police department 10 years ago for criminal involvement — and quickly released him. A few days later, she filed a second complaint that she was attacked and raped by three men. Her family members said she was badly beaten the second time.

“If the police would have taken her complaint seriously, she would still be alive,” a family member said, adding that she had despaired at the thought that the entire police department was supporting her alleged rapist. The police denied any foot-dragging or pressuring the victim, and added that the investigation is still open.

The problem here is not just the suspected corruption, in which personal connections or “protekzia” seem to enable some people to get away with crimes committed. The story here also reflects the way women who report being sexually assaulted are treated by the police as well as by the general public. As one Hebrew internet forum demanded upon posting this story: “When are women going to be taken seriously?”

Even comments from people who presumably knew her and liked her reflect the tendency not to believe the rape victim. Here is how one of her neighbors described her, according to the Ynet story: “She was a totally normal woman. She is not the type who has a bad name or the type who is known for doing nonsense (shtuyot).”

There it is, folks, right there. The second a woman complains of being raped, the first thing some listeners conclude is that she must not be normal. She must be the type that does “nonsense.” The rape victim is guilty until proven innocent.

It is worth noting that the tendency to doubt rape victims is not a particularly Israeli phenomenon; it’s also prevalent in America. Last week, in fact, the Washington City Paper published a shocking story about a college girl who was raped at a fraternity house at Howard University. She had witnesses and evidence, and said that she still could not get the attention of the police or the hospital. The victim has since filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, Howard University Hospital, George Washington University Hospital, both universities, several doctors and the D.C. police. She is seeking damages from the doctors and the D.C. police, whose actions she said resulted in “the probable loss of the opportunity to see her assailant brought to justice.”

Her story is horrible. But at least she is still alive.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sexual Assualt, Rape, Pardes Hanna, Suicide

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.