Alleged teen gang rapists to be indicted

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

Thirteen teenagers suspected of gang raping and physically abusing an18-year-old girl over the course of three years will be indicted at theTel Aviv Youth and Magistrate’s Courts on Wednesday.
Attorneysrepresenting the youths, 12 of whom are 17 and one 18, have claimedthat all sexual relations in question were held with the girl’s consent.
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 CrisisCenters in Israel (ARCCI), Jerusalem branch, told The Jerusalem Poston Tuesday that only by educating teens on gender equality and thenegative impact of sexual violence would the growing number of gangrape incidents decrease.
While this might seem obvious, Makov,who runs a nonprofit sex education program for middle and high schoolstudents, said the revelation that a girl had been raped by a gang ofat least 13 youths continually for three years was not surprising inthe 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 whoshare their experiences of having sex both at home and at school. About10 years ago, such an incident would have been surprising, but notnow.”
Although Makov said she could not share specific detailsof what came up during her sessions with students – the programs sheruns are for 6th through 11th grades – she did say that incidents ofsexual violence and peer-pressured sex were commonplace in everysegment of Israeli society, including religious communities.
“Evenas a religious person myself, I can say that sexual violence takesplace in every group in society. It’s a fact of life,” she lamented.
“Asa society, we have become completely desensitized to violence, and weare more violent than ever before,” Makov pointed out. “[Children] seesexually provocative and violent films on TV and advertisementseverywhere that promote violence. It happens all the time, and that iswhy it makes it much harder for them to understand that violence iswrong.”
She added, “We live in a very violent world, and sexual assault and rape are another symptom of that.”
Accordingto Makov, there is a myth among young women that there is a linkbetween love and sex, which often leads to women getting caught up inextreme cases such as ongoing gang rapes.
“Messages today arevery confusing for young girls,” she noted. “There is amisunderstanding about what love is, and girls end up being takenadvantage of and used for sex.”
The case brought to lightMonday, involving the 13 teenage suspects from north Tel Aviv and RamatGan, was only the latest in a wave of similar incidents. Last month, 12teenage boys were arrested in Afula for allegedly having sexualrelations with a 14-year-old girl over the course of four years,sometimes with her consent and other times forced. Before that, a10-year-old girl from Haifa reportedly engaged in continued sexualactivities with a large group of teenage boys in a neighborhood bombshelter.
“There is a myth in society that most rape cases arecarried out by a single person who is a stranger to the victim,”continued Makov. “[Studies worldwide show] that in many cases they areplanned, carried out by someone known to the victim and that there areother people around at the time watching or participating.”
Sheadded, “Many times when such an incident occurs, none of those involvedstop and ask themselves if the woman [or girl] has really agreed toparticipate in such acts.”
In addition to working with school children to dispel such mythsand encourage them to understand what is acceptable and what isinappropriate physically, the ARCCI encourages youngsters to confide inadults about their experiences.
“Children need to be given themessage that there is someone for them to talk to about what they aregoing 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.