Rape can be one of the thorniest crimes to prosecute because in certain
circumstances, it’s plainly difficult to prove. Most obvious are situations of
date rape, of his word against hers, of whether consent was given, whether the
victim and attacker were acquainted, whether objection was voiced, whether there
was resistance, etc.
Charges of rape are frequently compounded by issues
such as the veracity of the accuser, whether the victim had reached the age of
consent, whether force was used, whether coercion or abuse of authority were
involved or whether the victim was in an incapacitated state (induced by drugs
But sometimes rape cases present themselves most
unambiguously, conforming even to the ultra-conservative strictures that
predated the feminist movement’s campaigns to reform inadequate codes (which
allowed certain types of rape to pass under law-enforcement radars).
such case occurred in the vicinity of Tel Aviv’s new central bus station on
Independence Day. Two school kids were walking home from a club on Shivat Zion
Street. They were accosted by three Eritrean illegals, who asked them for a
lighter. Having received the lighter, the men – aged 18, 19 and 24 – kept
badgering the youngsters. Eventually they robbed them. One of the attackers
pinned the boy to the ground and the other two began beating and raping the
She yelled, opposed them and struggled
Although semen belonging to the two was found on her genitalia,
they were not indicted for rape. Why? Because due to this child’s valiant fight,
they didn’t quite manage a penetration. As the prosecution crudely put, the
victim “kept her legs closed.”
The upshot is that only charges of
attempted rape were filed. In practical terms it may mean little because the law
allows judges enough leeway to impose harsh sentences for the lesser crime as
But a principle is involved here. If a case as blatant and as
brutal as this – where a ruthless sexual assault was perpetrated upon a
juvenile, who suffered violence (as did her friend) from several total
strangers, acting in concert on a city street – doesn’t merit being called rape
owing to a technicality, then ordinary folks’ common sense is critically
assaulted. Moreover, the cause of protecting innocents from sexual predators of
all kinds is dealt a regressive blow.
We all know that law and what is
commonly perceived as justice are hardly one and the same. There is the dry
letter of the law as formulated by legislators and interpreted by the judiciary.
In contrast, “commonsense justice” reflects what ordinary folks regard as
In terms of commonsense notions, the 15-year-old was cruelly raped.
The fact that she succeeded in not allowing the two attackers to fully complete
the act should by no means detract from the gravity of what they actually did do
and it shouldn’t make an iota of a difference.
If her courage is allowed
to lessen their charges, then the wrongest of messages is sent to all rape
Why should they suffer the grilling and courtroom humiliation of
replaying the grisly events if the crime was downgraded? Victims are placed in
an impossible situation. Lack of resistance can lead to a misrepresentation of
the victim’s behavior. However, successful resistance works in the assailants’
This shouldn’t be so. Legalistic nitpicking notwithstanding, this
girl underwent a terrible trauma – even if she managed to avoid greater harm to
herself. The severity of anxieties, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorders that
victims experience isn’t delineated by formalistic and rigid bureaucratic
Sometimes too inflexible a reading of the law results in a
miscarriage of justice.
We wonder where women’s organizations are in this
instance. Why has no outcry been sounded? We hope this doesn’t arise from
political correctness, given the fact that the assailants are African, or from
the fact that no headline-generating celebrity was implicated.
fault is in the wording of the law, then changes ought to be seriously
considered. Legal phraseology isn’t sacrosanct and revisions, especially in
cases of such utterly incontrovertible viciousness, shouldn’t be out of the