‘Aleph’: Katsav sentence 'reflects severity of offenses'

Women’s groups offer mixed reaction to seven-year prison sentence, some say three judges did not go far enough.

women's group support Katsav victims 311 (photo credit: Aloni Mor / Israel Post)
women's group support Katsav victims 311
(photo credit: Aloni Mor / Israel Post)
Aleph from the Tourism Ministry, the primary victim in the Katsav affair, said after the sentencing on Tuesday that the length of the punishment was never of vital importance to her.
“Although this is not a happy day for me, I am relieved and satisfied from the sentence, which correctly reflects the severity of the offenses,” said Aleph in a statement.
“For me the conviction was most important, the fact that the court believed me and did justice with me, even if it took a while. I am happy to return to my family and my anonymity.”
Reaction from women’s groups to the seven-year sentence handed down to former President Moshe Katsav after being found guilty last December on two counts of rape, sexual assault and other sexual abuse crimes was mixed on Tuesday, with some activists believing that justice had been served while others saying three judges had not gone far enough.
“We do not feeling that this is a huge victory,” commented Gila Oshrat, chairwoman of the Department for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO). “The punishment was simply not enough. He was not an ordinary citizen but the number one person in society, and he should have acted as a role model. Instead, he took advantage of his power and used other people to help him commit these crimes.”
She added: “From our point of view, seven years is not enough for what he did. When a woman is raped, it is not only the physical act but the emotional aftereffects, which stay with her for her entire life. Therefore, from our point of view, seven years is not enough, especially when he will probably appeal and serve less time.”
Oshrat said there was one ray of hope, and that was the empowerment this trial has given to other victims of rape and sexual assault.
“There are other women hurt by Katsav who were not represented in this trial, but the actions of this court have helped to strengthen their position and their power to take action,” she said, adding that another of Katsav’s victims should be encouraged to take action against him.
While Oshrat’s view of the outcome was not wholly positive, most of the other women’s rights groups hailed the decision as a victory for victims of rape and sexual assault.
“It is a justified punishment, especially when you look at the crimes he committed,” said Nurit Tsur, executive director of the Israel Women’s Network.
“This punishment will help to prevent such acts in the future and make clear that rape and sexual harassment have no place in Israeli society.”
Michal Rozin, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said: “I believe that the court has sent a clear message that we are talking about a serial rapist who abused his power in order to commit a violent crime.
“The court came out in favor of the victim, and I believe it is unprecedented that such a public figure will spend a reasonable amount of time in jail,” she said. “It is the first time that the state has really taken responsibility for something like this.”
Women’s organization Naamat said that the “punishment handed out to Katsav was appropriate to the severity of the actions, and it sends the message that those in positions of power are not immune from receiving such punishments.”