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Alleged gang rape of 12 year old a ‘wake-up call’ for Israeli society
By LIDAR GRAVÉ-LAZI
23/12/2013
Director of Rape Crisis association: "This is a serious social problem and we must eradicate it.”
 
Child rights groups and rape crisis centers have reacted swiftly to news of the alleged gang rape of a 12-year old girl by classmates, condemning the act as “shocking” and exposing “a deeper societal problem.”

“The hard case published today provides more shocking evidence of the serious problem of sexual violence among youth in Israel,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, director-general of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. “In no way should the consent in such acts or participation of her own free will be attributed to a 12 year old girl.”

According to the reports, a total of 12 boys, aged 13-14, were arrested for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl, and filming and distributing video footage of the act.

“Youth today are exposed to pornography in bulk and some of them see this as a normative matter,” Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the National Council for the Child, told The Jerusalem Post. “It is not just on the Internet; look at commercials, especially fashion commercials, the media and what messages children receive about intimacy and women’s bodies. They are exposed to an infinite number of warped messages and they don’t have the abilities to filter them out and understand what the real world is like. Some of the youth involved don’t even realize they have done something wrong.”

According to Kadman, in 2012 there were 282 reported cases of suspected sexual assault in children under the age of 14 – a figure that has nearly doubled over the past decade.

“What we see all the time is a rise in the number of sexual assaults committed and a decrease in the age of those committing the crimes,” said Kadman. “We have a much deeper societal problem than just putting these children in prison.

The educational aspect is the most important, we don’t want to just punish we want to prevent.”

According to Kadman, schools are busy with educational priorities such as tests and scores, and do not have the time or resources to speak to children about social education and sexual violence. In addition, he said, parents also need to address these issues and provide parental leadership, though a majority often do not due to long working hours and the uncomfortable nature of such conversations.

“Even the courts offer warped messages,” said Kadman. “In the past year we have had four cases of educational figures found guilty of sexual attacks and they did not spend a single day in prison.

So what will the students think when they receive a message from the court that their teachers don’t spend a day in prison? What kind of message does that send to the children? That sexual assault is probably not a serious enough offense,” he concluded.

Sulitzeanu also said the new allegations of rape should be a wake-up call for parents and for society at large.

“The affair published this week needs to be a moment of truth for the Israeli government – the moment we realize this is a serious social problem and we must eradicate it,” she said. “Following the shocking allegations of rape I call upon the education minister, Shai Piron, to require every student in Israel – both in junior high and high school – to pass a prevention of sexual violence workshop, such as the workshops our crisis centers offer, in order to raise awareness and minimize the extent of these injuries.”

The Education Ministry also released a statement saying it views the incident involving students “with gravity and deep concern.”

According to the statement, the ministry said it had been in contact with the police in order to get the full details about the students involved with the act.

Furthermore, it said the educational staff of the school were examining all those who were directly or indirectly affected by the incident, and were convening to discuss a possible intervention on a personal, class, and school-wide level.

“Based on needs, students will receive emotional and psychological assistance by professionals from the Education Ministry,” said the statement. “The ministry will continue to hold systematic and continued, developmentally tailored informational activities with the educational staff and the students.”
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