This article contains wording some readers may find disturbing.The High Court of Justice ruled Thursday afternoon that a young woman found guilty of murdering her abusive husband may be recognized as a victim of human trafficking, subject to further examination.
The young woman, a Bedouin Israeli from the southern region, was forced to marry two older men against her will when she was a minor. The woman reportedly suffered abuse from her parents, being deprived of access to education.
In 2011, the woman – a 16-year-old girl at the time – was allegedly sold by her father to an older man for 5,000 Jordanian dinars ($7,052). Suffering prolonged sexual and physical abuse, the woman attempted to commit suicide on several occasions.
According to the Judge Daphna Barak-Erez, during the woman's first marriage, she was kept in a locked room, being beaten by members of her family on a daily basis. After attempting to flee, she was captured by her relatives and brought back to the village tied with a rope.
While hospitalized following a suicide attempt, the woman's parents agreed to a divorce, returning half of the bride-price to her abusive husband.
After ending her marriage in November 2012, the woman was imprisoned by her parents, suffering physical and verbal abuse for "harming the family's honor," according to Barak-Erez.
In January 2013, the woman – 17 at the time – was forced by her parents to marry once again for a 5,000-dinar token. According to the Court, her husband was more than 20 years her senior.
Following the wedding, the woman was raped and beaten by her husband. According to the Court, after the her parents refused to help her leave, the woman stabbed the man to death.
In 2014, the woman was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to 11 years in prison. The woman's sentence was commuted in 2018 by President Reuven Rivlin.
"The marriage does not constitute the elements required for the act of the plaintiff's parents to be considered human trafficking," Israel Police argued in a previous petition raised by the woman.
"Marrying a couple against the will of one of the two is not a substitute for the legal definition" of the crime of human trafficking.
"[The] evidential basis does not show the plaintiff was enslaved or held for forced labor or sexual services," police added.
"After weighing the facts, I believe [the High Court of Justice] should accept the petition in its part, ruling to make the decree nisi (a conditional ruling) a decree absolute (a binding ruling)," Barak-Erez said in Thursday's ruling.
"This is what I would suggest my friends to do."
According to Barak-Erez, "unfortunately, the plaintiff's state was not addressed appropriately from the perspective of the factual basis of the decision that was made."
Citing "unclear administrative evidence," the High Court of Justice ruled further examination of the situation is required in order to determine whether the woman was, in fact, a victim of human trafficking.