(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
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
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
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
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
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
“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.”
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.
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.”