Israeli society does not take statutory rape seriously enough, Orit Sulitzeanu,
director-general of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel,
Sulitzeanu was reacting over the weekend to the reports that one of
the country’s most prominent singers has had sexual relations with underage
Last week, a 15-year-old girl filed a complaint to Tel Aviv Police
saying she had consensual sex with the singer on a number of occasions in recent
“It is time that the public understands that statutory rape is a
serious sexual offense, even if it is done with consent, and is punishable by up
to five years in prison,” Sulitzeanu said. “In Israel, this offense is still
considered unimportant, negligible, as a private matter that does not concern
the public, and perhaps even romantic.
“Unfortunately, there is still no
real understanding of the context of the exploitation,” she said. “If the
allegations are true, this is a case of exploitation by a famous man whose
public status may dazzle young girls and keep them from realizing that they are
being sexually taken advantage of.”
Sulitzeanu explained that under the
law, children under the age of 14 cannot give consent, and therefore, sexual
intercourse between a man and a girl under 14 years old, even if she agreed to
the act, is rape.
In addition, if the girl is 14 or 15 years old and is
not married to the man in question; or if she is 16 or 17 and the sexual
intercourse happened in the context of a relationship of dependence, with an
authority figure, or under a false promise of marriage, then the act is
“prohibited consensual sexual intercourse.”
“This shows that if the
reports are true, even if the girl will argue that she had agreed to having
sexual relations [with the singer], it is still a criminal offense,” Sulitzeanu
She made clear that “a 15- year-old girl is incapable of giving
genuine consent” and that the adult is considered solely responsible for the
“Adolescence is the age when boys and girls are exploring
their wishes about sex and sexuality,” she added.
“In the educational
workshops that rape crisis centers operate, we often meet young people who are
confused and helpless in defining the boundaries between healthy sexuality and
“The law recognizes the vulnerability of boys and
girls at this age and protects them from situations of exploitation by an adult
and situations where consent was not clear,” Sulitzeanu continued.
know that girls in these situations may feel shame and guilt, which leads many
times to them hiding the issue and not treating it.”
Sulitzeanu said that
most of the calls the rape crisis centers receive concerning sexual relations
under the age of 18 are made by parents, other family members or
Very few minors seek help themselves.
She stressed the
importance of talking to youth and providing them with reliable information on
the subject, as well as training educational staff to deal with sexual abuse and
suspicions of abuse.
“As a society, we have a responsibility to avoid
situations of social pressure and legitimization of sexual abuse, recognize the
harsh consequences of sexual assault and condemn every case of sexual
exploitation,” she said.
Ronit Argaman, director of the Argaman Institute
for psychological services, counseling and training, also addressed the recent
“It is impossible to let go of the fact that an adult male,
who has had previous romantic and sexual experience and who is a father, will
not take responsibility for his decisions and sexual behaviors,” she
Argaman, a sexual educator and counselor who specializes in sex
addiction, sexual trauma and problematic sexual behavior, said that “age
difference is a vehicle for exploitation” and that it is “not surprising that a
teenage girl, fan of the artist or not, will develop feelings of admiration for
him and a desire to have intimate contact with him.
“Consent to sexual
intercourse does not only refer to the verbal expression of ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but
requires an understanding of the meaning of sexual behavior, the possible
consequences – physical, emotional and mental – in the short and long term, and
the ability to stop the act at any given moment,” she said.
artist had stopped for a moment and thought about two things, it probably never
have happened,” she said.
“First, ‘What would I do to a man my age who
was trying to get sexually close to my daughter?’ and secondly, “How long and
arduous of a process will the girl have to go through to heal the injury?’”
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