Alleged teen gang rapists to be indicted

Education is key to preventing such incidents among teens, says crisis center employee.

By
March 3, 2010 01:21
3 minute read.
rape victim 88

rape victim 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Thirteen teenagers suspected of gang raping and physically abusing an 18-year-old girl over the course of three years will be indicted at the Tel Aviv Youth and Magistrate’s Courts on Wednesday.

Attorneys representing the youths, 12 of whom are 17 and one 18, have claimed that all sexual relations in question were held with the girl’s consent.

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Police are investigating the possibility that further offenses were committed by the group, and say more arrests are expected.

Meanwhile, Michal Makov, education director for the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI), Jerusalem branch, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that only by educating teens on gender equality and the negative impact of sexual violence would the growing number of gang rape incidents decrease.

While this might seem obvious, Makov, who runs a nonprofit sex education program for middle and high school students, said the revelation that a girl had been raped by a gang of at least 13 youths continually for three years was not surprising in the least.

“I was not at all shocked when I heard this,” Makov told the Post. “I’m involved all the time in discussions with school children who share their experiences of having sex both at home and at school. About 10 years ago, such an incident would have been surprising, but not now.”

Although Makov said she could not share specific details of what came up during her sessions with students – the programs she runs are for 6th through 11th grades – she did say that incidents of sexual violence and peer-pressured sex were commonplace in every segment of Israeli society, including religious communities.



“Even as a religious person myself, I can say that sexual violence takes place in every group in society. It’s a fact of life,” she lamented.

“As a society, we have become completely desensitized to violence, and we are more violent than ever before,” Makov pointed out. “[Children] see sexually provocative and violent films on TV and advertisements everywhere that promote violence. It happens all the time, and that is why it makes it much harder for them to understand that violence is wrong.”

She added, “We live in a very violent world, and sexual assault and rape are another symptom of that.”

According to Makov, there is a myth among young women that there is a link between love and sex, which often leads to women getting caught up in extreme cases such as ongoing gang rapes.

“Messages today are very confusing for young girls,” she noted. “There is a misunderstanding about what love is, and girls end up being taken advantage of and used for sex.”

The case brought to light Monday, involving the 13 teenage suspects from north Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, was only the latest in a wave of similar incidents. Last month, 12 teenage boys were arrested in Afula for allegedly having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl over the course of four years, sometimes with her consent and other times forced. Before that, a 10-year-old girl from Haifa reportedly engaged in continued sexual activities with a large group of teenage boys in a neighborhood bomb shelter.

“There is a myth in society that most rape cases are carried out by a single person who is a stranger to the victim,” continued Makov. “[Studies worldwide show] that in many cases they are planned, carried out by someone known to the victim and that there are other people around at the time watching or participating.”

She added, “Many times when such an incident occurs, none of those involved stop and ask themselves if the woman [or girl] has really agreed to participate in such acts.”

In addition to working with school children to dispel such myths and encourage them to understand what is acceptable and what is inappropriate physically, the ARCCI encourages youngsters to confide in adults about their experiences.

“Children need to be given the message that there is someone for them to talk to about what they are going through and that they will be believed,” said Makov.

The ARCCI runs a 24-hour emergency hot line, which can be reached at 1202 for women and 1203 for men.

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