(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch praised the “social revolution” in recent
years in which victims of sexual crimes are treated with much more dignity and
sensitivity, rather than being blamed for “inviting” the attacks on their bodies
Speaking at a Tuesday symposium at the Bat-Ami Center for the
Treatment of Sexual Abuse at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Medical Center,
which opened at the Ein Kerem campus in May 2009, Beinisch said it was
“impossible to exaggerate the importance of the center” – the only one of its
kind in the Jerusalem area and only the third in the country.
first center was opened at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and the
Haifa’s Bnei Zion Medical Center, rape victims – women, men and children
sent by taxi to the Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir, which mainly
autopsies. After examination, testing and treatment, the rape victims
usually be returned home by bus.
Beinisch came at the invitation
court colleague, Justice Edna Arbel, whose daughter, gynecologist Dr.
Arbel-Alon, heads the center.
Beinisch noted that victims of
crimes had long been stigmatized.
“There was no support for those
The common view then was that if a woman had been
sexually, she probably asked for it,” Beinisch said. “That was the
then. If not, they reasoned, why doesn’t it happen to everybody?” Now
protecting human dignity have been passed, she continued, the younger
of professionals takes the new attitude for granted. Yet the fight for
is not yet complete, she asserted.
She noted that when she was a
lawyer, society had been “very macho,” and the complaints of victims –
especially women – had not been taken seriously, especially if there was
evidence that they had put up a vigorous fight against the
“Society lived in denial,” she said.
been realized that victims can be so frightened and dependent on the
whom they usually know personally, that they cannot fight back by
scratching or biting, she noted. Only in a minority of rape cases is the
committed by a stranger in a dark orchard at night, said Beinisch; in
of 10 crimes, the victim knows the attacker.
four-and-a-halfhour conference to the memory of Hagar Barel, a Hadassah
and nurse who died of cancer a year ago after devoting herself to
sexual abuse and rape and worked hard to ensure the establishment of
The director said there was a “window of opportunity” of
hours after a rape, during which the medical dangers could be minimized,
psychological trauma might require extended rehabilitation.
a young Hadassah-Ein Kerem emergency room nurse who has been chief nurse
Bat-Ami for nearly a year, said that 107 people – the oldest a
and the youngest a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler – had been treated there since it
One-tenth were men or boys, she said, and 79 victims were over the age
The multidisciplinary staff of doctors, nurses, social
others, operating in coordination with the Israel Police, work around
365 days a year, but most of the victims come in at night.
victim remains in the center for five hours, during which he or she is
talked to, undergoes a forensic examination, and takes medications to
infection with HIV and hepatitis B or C and to avoid pregnancy (if
The center also helps victims get these medications free from their
without having to expose their stories.
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto,
addressed the symposium and is a gynecologist and lawyer by training,
would press for the establishment of a fourth rape treatment center at
Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba, as the Negev has none and
have to travel to Holon for urgent examination and treatment.A
on the Hadassah symposium will appear on a future Sunday Health Page.