(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Association of Rape (Yossi Zeliger/Israel Hayom, pool) Crisis Centers in Israel submitted a bill Thursday seeking to expand statutory rape law to cases where an adult takes advantage of his social status to have sexual relations with a minor at least 10 years younger than him.
Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie cooperated to formulate the draft law, following the recently reported scandal involving famous Israeli singer Eyal Golan and allegations of sex with underage girls.
The bill states that “in light of the phenomenon of cases of sexual exploitation of minors, which present a norm of misconduct, it is necessary to boost the degree of protection provided to them, and prevent their young age and vulnerability from being exploited for sexual purposes.”
In a statement, Lavie said that “in a perfect world, such a law wouldn’t be necessary.
But unfortunately, there are many cases in which people take advantage of their influential status [to have sex with minors,] and this requires legislative intervention to redefine the norms of appropriate behavior.”
The existing law on statutory rape protects teenagers only until the age of 16.
Lavie explained that if the new bill is passed, adults suspected of statutory rape would not be able to claim that they thought the minor was older than 16 as an excuse.
Under the current 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 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.”
Orit Sulitzeanu, director-general of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said that “the affair involving singer Eyal Golan which was reported in the past days showed us all that we must set clear boundaries of what is sexual exploitation and what is consensual sex.”
She said that the draft law aims to “make clear that a relationship between a minor and a person significantly older cannot be considered a relationship based on equality, and may be an exploitation of dependency or authority.”
Sulitzeanu reacted to the Eyal Golan reports earlier this week by saying that Israeli society does not take statutory rape seriously enough.
“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 with up to five years in prison,” she said. “In Israel, this offense is still considered unimportant, negligible, as a private matter that does not concern the public, and perhaps even romantic.”
The bill is supported by MKs across the political spectrum, including Labor MK Merav Michaeli, Meretz MK Michal Roisin, Bayit Yehudi MK Mordechai Yogev, Hatnua MK Meir Sheetrit and Likud MK Miri Regev.