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Posts Tagged ‘Sexual Assault’

The Katzav Effect

In Sexual Assault on March 26, 2011 at 21:43

TIME Magazine
Friday, Mar. 25, 2011
Israel’s Katsav Rape Case: A Plus for Women’s Rights?
By Karl Vick / Jerusalem

In a parliamentary government like Israel’s, pretty much all executive power resides in the Prime Minister. The office of President carries certain responsibilities, such as signing treaties and appointing the head of the central bank, but it’s largely a ceremonial post. Israel’s head of state is basically there to make the country look good.

So when Moshe Katsav, who held the office from 2000 to 2007, was convicted of rape last December, it did not enhance the dignity of the office. Nor did the outburst Tuesday morning in the Tel Aviv courtroom where he had just been sentenced to seven years in prison. “You are mistaken, ma’am, you are mistaken!” Katsav cried to one of the three judges he faced. “You have committed an injustice! The judgment is wrong! You allowed lies to emerge victorious! The women know that they lied! They know that they lied, and they are laughing at the judgment!”

The jurists took turns trying to calm the defendant — “Sir, sit down quietly, with dignity,” one of them said — then returned to reading out the sentence. In addition to jail time, it calls for Katsav to pay 100,000 shekels (about $28,500) to the woman he was found guilty of raping when she worked for him at the Tourism Ministry, which the Likud Party loyalist ran in the late 1990s. Katsav also must pay the equivalent of $7,100 to one of two former employees of the President’s residence whom he was convicted of sexually harassing. His attorneys announced he would appeal.

In the spasm of agonized national self-reflection that immediately ensued, one positive note was sounded again and again: in a country that still regards itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, “nobody is above the law, not even a former President,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it.

In fact, Israelis have grown accustomed to the long arm of the law reaching into the highest levels of government. Netanyahu was elected to an office vacated by Ehud Olmert, whose trial for corruption is under way in Jerusalem. The nation’s political landscape is stippled with former officials widely expected to resume their careers after waiting out penalties.

The real import of the Katsav conviction is the offense. Israel once enjoyed a reputation as an early exemplar of women’s rights. Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister in the 1960s. Young women wait at bus stops wearing olive green fatigues and carrying M-16s, military service being compulsory for both genders.

But in the corridors of power, it’s been a man’s world for generations. “This is considered a feminist country? That’s something new to me,” laughs Irit Gazit, who runs the legal aid bureau for the Women’s International Zionist Organization. An expert on sexual harassment, Gazit has been conducting workshops for the Israel Defense Forces. With its heavily male officer corps and legions of young female conscripts, it has often had to deal with accustions of harassment, yet it remains a crucial role model for a society that reveres its military.

In the gradual change of public attitudes, women’s rights advocates say a pivot point was the 2001 conviction of Yitzhak Mordechai, a retired major general convicted of indecency after being accused of unwelcome advances by a string of female subordinates. “While we were having coffee, he forced himself on me,” one testified. “He lay on top of me and tried to put his hand inside my blouse. I said to him, ‘Itzik, what are you doing?’ ” The accusations came in what would be a familiar pattern: news of the first complaint was followed by a wave of others. “It was a common assumption that if you were in a powerful position, you could do whatever you want,” says Gazit. “It was common in the army.”

The assumption has grown a bit less common with the publicity surrounding each new case. And there have been a lot of them. In one week last November, the nominee for national police commissioner was undone by a complaint from a woman who said he had sexually assaulted her at a conference. After another women alleged he had raped and drugged her, the candidate claimed the incident was not only consensual but a threesome. Meanwhile the director of the public security ministry resigned, acknowledging a relationship with a subordinate “that went beyond the bounds of work.”

Meanwhile, Katsav’s yearlong trial proceeded largely out of view, the three-judge panel barring most press coverage after sensationalized coverage of the investigation. The verdict included the judges’ tart observation that the Iranian-born Katsav had attempted to frame his accusers, followed by the court’s release of audio tapes supporting the allegation. “Now is a time of change,” says Gazit. “We need to educate men and women both. I hope cases like Katsav’s really serve this purpose.”

There is evidence they do. In January, the civil service commission reported that sexual harassment complaints were up 40% over a year earlier, a surge attributed largely to increasing awareness of the issue. Rape crisis counselors referred to it as “the Katsav effect.”

Heroism in the Midst of Horror

In Heroism on February 17, 2011 at 14:25

The past few months, we here in Israel have lived through some horrendous tales of violence and sexual abuse and misconduct. Our former President was convicted of rape, a highly-important rabbi indicted for sex crimes and stories of murder and sexual assault of young men and women, often at the hands of their peers, abound.

Despite that, or perhaps because of that, this is a story I think we all need to hear: The story of one woman’s outstanding heroism in the midst of the horrible conditions being endured by Eritrean refugees.

While the world looks to Egypt for new hope, hundreds are being killed and tortured for financial gain on her Southern border.

A hopeless situation? Perhaps. But not according to Zeid and the 50 people she who owe her their lives.

 

A  Heroine  Seeking Shelter: Despite Being Raped, She Freed Her Colleagues

Walla! News

Boaz Wolinic

Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Zeid, a 30-year-old asylum-seeker who had been raped by Bedouin smugglers in the Sinai,  managed to steal the keys to the prisoners’ cells and release her comrades. This according to the testimonies of prisoners who fled to Israel

About 50 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea were able to escape two weeks ago from Bedouin smugglers who held them in the Sinai and reached the Israeli border. About 30 of them managed to cross the border, while the others were apparently sold by Egyptian soldiers back to the smugglers. This is according to the testimonies of four refugees who entered Israel and told their version of the story to the Hotline for Migrant Workers.

The prisoners who escaped owed their lives to Zeid, a 30 year old prisoner, who through ingenuity and courage, managed to release them from the camp. They said that about ten days ago she was brutally raped by one of the guards at the smugglers’ detention camp. The refugees explain that when the smugglers returned  Zeid to the camp grounds, she stole the key to to the prisoners’ cell and hid it in her hair.

The group that was released from their cells took  captors’ Kalashnikov rifles, threatened them, and fled, armed to the Israeli border. Before crossing the border into Israel, they threw down their weapons and, thereby,  secured their entry into Israel, directly into the hands of IDF forces who took them from there to Ketziot Prison.

Zeid, the heroic prisoner, currently remains at Ketziot Prison. Abraham Asmelsh, age 25 from Sudan, who was able to escape thanks to her efforts asked to say one sentence to her : “Thank you Zeid. Thanks to you, we are still alive.” Abraham promises to keep the  key  Zeid brought to him for the rest of his life.

Rape, Starvation and Violence

The place where the refugee group was held for the past six months was like a pigsty. Conditions were appalling and difficult – without regular food, toilets, showers or proper places to sleep. “We got a half-liter bottle of water per day. When it was very hot, we were given two bottles per person,” says Mussa Naim, one of the asylum seekers who had been imprisoned by the Bedouin. “When I came to the desert I weighed 85 kilo. Within six months I lost 30 kilo.”

“They were taking the women every day. When I tried to prevent them from taking them, they beat me with sticks. I still have signs,” Musa said, “They argued that the women were not my sisters, so it was not my business what they did with them. The women were crying and shouting. I could not sleep. After several months, it became clear that none of them got their monthly menstrual cycle. Some of them did not realize that they were pregnant. ”

Dozens of concentration camps of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea are operating in  the northern Sinai Desert, half an hour from the border of Israel – Egypt. A report that was prepared by the “Hotline for Migrant Workers” presents accumulated testimony of experiences of severe abuse from asylum seekers who managed to reach Israel. According to the report,  ownership and control of the camps is divided between the Sinai Bedouin smugglers, and  Egyptian military personnel, who maintain an extensive business relationship with them.

The Bitter Taste of Victory: a Self-Defense Success Story

In Sexual Harrassment on November 28, 2010 at 13:37
A short time ago, El HaLev received a letter from a graduate of one of our 10-hour self-defense program. One night, this young woman went to a bus stop. A young man began to stare at her, moved closer and sat down next to her on the bench. He began by making verbal overtures and then, sexual advances . She resisted verbally. He began touching himself, left and returned. Finally, she called a friend waiting at the next bus stop, who ran over to join her at her stop and the harassment stopped.

“What did I do wrong?” was the underlying question posed by the letter.

This was  my response:

Thank you for your letter. First of all, what a harrowing experience!  We are angered and saddened that you had to experience it at all. And we are very impressed  that you have decided to turn it into a learning experience. We applaud your strength and your wisdom.

First of all, here is a list of several things we can tell from your story that you did right:

  • You trusted your intuition when it told you that something was not right about the situation
  • You tried to put distance between yourself and the man who was worrying you.
  • You saw the situation as one that might require self-defense skills
  • You sat down next to someone else to create safety in numbers
  • You tried to set a verbal boundary
  • You kept reassessing the situation as things changed
  • You called your friend for support and help
  • And, most of all, you never gave up

So, as disturbing as your experience was, you succeeded in keeping an incident that started off as sexual harrassment into what your attcker clearly intended to turn into sexual assault. In short, you won!

Now, let’s take a look at some of the details of your story and discuss a few things that might be helpful to you now and in the future:

1) “The second man started staring at me. I looked away and tried to ignore him”: This is one of those situations that many of us have difficulty with. The question I would ask here is: Did you choose to look like you were ignoring him among other alternatives (like using strong body language, creating a physical barrier, using your voice, etc) because you thought it would work best, or did you choose it because you were worried about embarrassing yourself or hurting his feelings if you choose a more pro-active course of action? The fact is that pretending to ignore someone is a legitimate technique that works some of the time. As it happened here, each time he moved closer and, thereby, tested your boundaries, you were also in a position to test the effectiveness of the technique you were using and perhaps try something else.

2)  “I couldn’t move further over on the bench because another women wearing earphones was sitting there and I didn’t want to bother her“: Since we can now look back and see that having your friend join you was what finally deterred this persistent harasser, we now know something we could only guess back then: waking this Beauty from her slumber, i.e. getting her to remove her earphones and asking her to ally with you, might well have stopped the situation in its tracks. From experience, we can tell you that getting her attention would have been a favor to this young woman, though she might not have appreciated it at the time :-). Her disconnection from the environment sets her up as a prime target for a potential assailant like this one. Perhaps she would have learned the lesson that pretending that nothing is happening around you doesn’t make it so— without having to go through the kind of harassment that you endured here.

3) “I tried to speak to him in the most aggressive voice I could muster but all that came out was: ‘ Stop. Enough. Please, that’s enough.” : First of all, this tactic DID result in him taking his hands off of you and onto himself. So it obviously had some effect. In order increase its effectiveness, there are a couple of things you might consider:

a) If you want to be civilized and say “please”, then you can say “please”. Go right ahead— as long as your tone of voice and body language make it very clear that this is not really a request; it is an order!

b) When issuing an order like this, it helps you to focus and him to comply if you tell him, not just what you want him to STOP doing, but what you want him to do— in this case: “Go away”, “get lost”, “leave me alone”, or anything like that: clear, short and to the point. And be prepared to repeat yourself as many times as it takes for him to understand that he has been caught, his game is over and he might as well go home.

4) “In any case, I know not to wait alone at bus stops if possible— especially not at night.” : Be sure that you learn the right lessons from your experience. There is nothing wrong with your choosing to wait at a bus stop alone at night or at any other time of day. HE was the only one who did anything wrong here. You have the right to be where you wish when you wish. And, as you have demonstrated so well, along with that right goes taking responsibility for your own safety, i.e. paying attention to your environment, listening to your intuition, setting boundaries when you feel you need to, removing yourself from difficult situations when you can and fighting like a tigeress to get away when you can’t. If you do these things, there is no reason to restrict yourself, who you are,what you say, how you dress or where you choose to be. Self-defense training frees us to be who we are, to have our freedom and to stay safe all at the same time.

And one more thing. Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Your nervous system doesn’t care whether or not your struggle became physical; it only knows that it fought a  pitched battle for its survival. The fact that you “won” does not mean that it was not  traumatic.  Talk about what happened. Learn from it. Grow from it.

It may not feel like it right now but yours was a story of self-defense success. We can’t prevent people from acting like idiots. Sometimes we can stop them. In your case, you did more than that; you prevented a physical assault.

We are very, very grateful for whatever part we were able to play in that victory and in your many victories to come.

Violence Takes No Holidays

In Crime in Israel on October 1, 2010 at 15:02

The holiday season in Israel has come to a close. But violence never took a holiday. Here are a few poignant examples.

Jerusalem: A Young Man Stabbed and Critically Wounded in an Ultra-Orthodox Neighborhood

Nana
Updated 01:04 01/10/2010
Sagi Shir

A serious injury during the celebration of Simchat Torah: A man of about 20 was stabbed last night (Thursday) in the Ultra- Orthodox Makor Baruch neighborhood in Jerusalem. An MDA team called to the scene evacuated the young man in critical condition to Shaare Zedek Hospital in the city. The background of the event is probably criminal.

The man was stabbed once in the groin; then the attacker fled from the scene towards the Peqi’in Street neighborhood. A Mobile MDA Unit that tried to rescue him was attacked as it reached the neighborhood, delaying the evacuation. Police are searching for the suspect in the stabbing.

This is not the only assault case reported during the days of Succot.

Ashdod police yesterday arrested three minors aged 16 and 17 on suspicion of attacking two minors aged 13 and 14 the evening before for no apparent reason . The minors are patients at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, one in moderate condition and one in good condition. They reported that they were sitting on a bench in the city when a group of teenagers approached them and began to attack them “for no reason.”

A similar criminal event took place last night in Holon in which  two minors, ages 16 and 17, are suspected of forcing a 12-year-old boy into a vehicle in front of a city garden and driving off. The police managed to seize the two men and rescue the boy, who was not severely injured in the incident.

Another unfortunate case took place on Wednesday, in which two people were killed and three others  injured near a cafe in Qalansawa cafe nearby, apparently after unknown persons opened fire towards a group of people sitting there.

In another incident an 18 year-old was killed by gunfire during a brawl in the Bedouin village Laqia in the Negev.

And here are a few more “holiday season ” headlines from Y-Net:

Suspected: A 16 year-old youth sexually assaulted a 6 year-old boy in Afula.
The youth, who works as a guard at a construction site, is suspected of committing indecent acts on the boy – who lives nearby. The child was taken to a hospital for medical examination.

Murder suspects arrested in Abu Gosh, “More blood will flow”
Four members of the Jaber Clan were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Hassan Othman last month. Police suspect that the murder was ‘blood revenge’ for the murder of a boy from the Jaber Family. The village fears more bloodshed.

Father Murders Mother and Says “I’ll Kill Myself”.
“We wanted to save Mom, explained the children of Munib Zhong and A. Ibrahim from Smi, a village in the Western Galilee, who witnessed the horror… The husband climbed up the ladder to the balcony – and stabbed his wife to death

Suspicion: A man stabbed after causing a child to drop his hot dog (Rishon L’Zion)

Suspected: Cop convicted of sexual harassment sexually assaulted female drivers
A Special Patrol officer (a resident of Kiryat Malachi) dismissed from his post following his conviction for harassing a female soldier, was arrested on suspicion of attacking women who were driving alone, signaling them to stop because of disrepair and attempting to sexually assault them.

Mother threw her two children from the 4th floor and jumped. They survived. (Tel-Aviv)

Four year-old injured from shots fired at a house in Tira

14 Year-Old Complains: My husband attacked me even though I was pregnant
Husband suspected of assaulting the young wife on numerous occasions, in addition to suspected statutory rape.

Indictment: Bnei Brak Resident Serving in the 8200 Elite Computer Unit held in sexual harassment of young girl

Caretakers sexually abused mentally-ill patients
Adi Revach and Orly Wanda from Pardes  Hannah are accused of causing inmates to commit a series of serious sex offenses,

Man suspected of raping an 11 year-old girl in the succah that stood at the Tomb of Rabbi Meir in Tiberias

16 year-old admitted that he murdered 14-year-old  over a cigarette (Beersheba)

Beersheba murder: A boy of 15 stabbed to death in a fight

Guess it’s time to get back to work…

Her Wits & Her Cell Phone About Her

In self-defense on May 9, 2010 at 16:56

I have a love-hate relationship with my cellphone. I love having the whole world at my fingertips whenever and wherever I may be. But, I don’t like being at the whole world’s beck and call. And I’m not alone.

Our general ambivilence about our cell phones is reflected in the self-defense world. On the one hand, people who are up to no good need three things going for them before they can successfully carry out their nasty deeds: intention, ability and opportunity. For the vast majority of them, isolating their target is part of creating  opportunity. Cell phones break isolation, giving potential victims a connection to the world outside, a chance to get someone’s attention or call for help. No isolation, no opportunity, creep moves on to a more vulnerable victim.

For a wonderful example of the use of a cell phone as a tool of self-defense, see the success story below in which a 16 year-old Beersheva girl outwits her three captors by saying she has to call her mother…  A great Mother’s Day tribute.

On the other hand, you probably don’t need me to tell you that cell phones can be a real safety hazard— and not just for drivers.  According to a study of pedestrian safety at the University of Illinois published this past November, using a cell phone while walking can be hazardous to your health. Compared with people just listening to music as they crossed, users of hands-free cell phones took longer to cross the same street under the same conditions and were more likely to get run over by a vehicle.

Personally, I think the cell phone is one of the best tools of self-defense ever devised. Unfortunately, it seem that good always comes with a price tag attached. Chocolate has calories; weekends have Monday (or Sunday if you live in Israel). Your cell phone can connect you to the world, or soak up so much of your attention, you become more vulnerable becuase of it. It can be a source of increased safety or increased danger. It’s  a matter of maximizing your awareness and deciding how to use the tools you have. Which reminds me: don’t forget that striking someone straight on with a cell phone to the nose, the solar plexus or the groin can get your message across with no additional air time charges and without even calling your Mom.

Beersheba: ‘3 Arabs tried to kidnap, sexually assault girl’

By YAAKOV LAPPIN
06/05/2010

www.jpost.com

Police in Beersheba arrested three Israeli Arabs on Thursday on suspicion of attempting to kidnap and sexually assault a 16-year-old girl.

According to suspicions, the suspects noticed the girl walking and offered her a ride to her friend’s house. The girl apparently entered the vehicle, but soon learned that the suspects had no intention of letting her out unless “she agreed to their sexual demands,” police said.

The suspects allegedly confiscated the girl’s phone to prevent her from calling for assistance.

“Keeping her wits about her, the girl told her captors that she wanted to phoned her mother to let her know she would be late. The suspects gave her the phone, and the girl proceeded to immediately contact police,” Negev police added.

The suspects became alarmed by the call and in the confusion, the girl escaped from the vehicle. The suspects fled the scene in the vehicle.

Police in the meantime deployed large numbers of patrol cars to the area, and located the vehicle containing the suspects, and the girl walking along a main road.

Whatever Happened To Freedom AND Responsibility?

In Sexual Assault on March 31, 2010 at 15:28


Here we are smack in the middle of the one-week Passover holiday- Pesach- The Festival of Freedom. In a celebratory mood, I wanted to bring you a self-defense success story and I found one, not only from Israel, mind you, but right from the holy city of Jerusalem (see below).

As I translated the story  from the Hebrew, I was struck by the awesome courage of the intended victim who fought off an armed attacker with her little children sleeping in the next room. I was inspired by the intervention of her neighbors, who identified the assailant and by the police who rushed to the scene.

However, with all due respect to the defense lawyer, what kind of a legal system declares someone “not responsible for their actions” due to being drunk??? How drunk could he have been? He had the foresight to ensure that his intended victim was alone, to put on a stocking mask— not something most men keep in their pockets “just in case”— and bring along a box cutter— what “box” was he planning to open  in his neighbor’s apartment?

The Passover story and freedom. There in the presence of the powerful Pharoah, King of Egypt, stands the shepherd Moses (sounding remarkably like Charlton Heston) quoting God: “Shlach et ami…” Let my people go!”… And that’s where they choose to close the book and have another cup of wine– To Freedom!

But that is only half of the quotation. The quotation is not ” Shlach et ami…”; it is “Shlach et ami v’yavduni.” “Let my people go SO THEY MAY SERVE ME.” Freedom, yes, but for a purpose.  Freedom and responsibility go hand-in- hand. In our society, we allow people to drink. We allow them to drink to excess- even though we all know that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol make us more likely to do stupid, risky and harmful things. It makes sense that we not hold people responsible for what they might do, but rather for what they do.  “I was drunk” might excuse someone for slipping on the stairs and breaking a favorite vase but since when can: “I was drunk” be used to excuse someone for committing a violent crime? You were drunk? And who was responsible for THAT??? And, if someone was in control enough to time his attack,  disguise himself and brings along a weapon, how drunk could he have been???

A deep bow to the 23 year-old Jerusalem mother of two for her heroism, to her neighbors for being what true neighbors should be and to the police for apprehending the suspect and bringing in the evidence to convict him. Let’s hope that our justice system doesn’t let this one get away.

Suspected: He made sure the husband had left, and attempted to rape his neighbor

A Jerusalem Court extended the detention of a resident of the city, who is suspected of entering his neighbor’s apartment at night with a stocking mask and a box cutter, attacking her and trying to rape her.  She shouted, struggled – and fought him off. The suspect’s lawyer argues: “He was drunk”.

YNet

Dec. 8. 2009

Efrat Weiss

The suspected attacker waited for the husband to leave, then went into his neighbor’s apartment with a stocking mask – and tried to rape her at knife point with her two children in the next room. This afternoon (Tuesday) the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the arrest of the city resident arrested last night on suspicion of trying to rape his neighbor. The investigation continues.

A 36-year-old man was arrested as a result of a night time attack on his neighbor, age 23. According to the woman filing the complaint, the suspect entered her apartment at about 10 o’clock at night wearing a stocking mask and carrying a box cutter, attacked her and tried to rape her. She struggled with him and was lightly injured by the knife, for which she required medical treatment. At the end of the struggle, she managed to fight him off, and he fled the apartment without carrying out his plans. During the course of the entire incident, the victim’s two young children – ages nine months and a year and eight months – were in the next room.

Neighbors who heard the screams of the young woman called the police. The police arrived at the scene and began to search for the attacker. The woman could not identify the attacker due to his stocking mask , but neighbors that saw him remove the mask reported him to the police, and he was arrested. During a search conducted in his apartment the knife was also found.

According to Sergeant Major Maya Yosipov, investigator of violent sexual offenses, the suspect confessed this morning and admitted that he planned the attack after the husband left fifteen minutes before, when he realized that his wife was alone at home. In response,  the suspect’s lawyer, Ariel Atari, said: “According to the evidence, my client was drunk that night. Therefore, it is doubtful that he can be held responsible for his actions, even if they occurred.” Said Sergeant Major Yosipov  “The drunkenness argument contradicts the confession, according to which he planned the event, went up to the apartment, found the door open, and entered the apartment wearing a stocking mask and equipped with a knife.”

The Same Old Song Without The Dance

In Children on March 21, 2010 at 03:10

Self-defense instruction meets The Dangers of the Internet

One of the truly important things we have done at El HaLev is to create a nationally-recognized course for training self-defense instructors. The course consists of  instruction in sport-related anatomy, physiology, psychology and class planning and then, practical training from the most experienced instructors in El HaLev (including yours truly) in the art of teaching self-defense skills . All of the young women currently taking the course have a strong background in the martial arts, which will help them learn, apply and adapt the physical skills we teach. However, they understand, and we drill it in as much as humanly possible, that physical techniques are not the be-all-and-end-all of teaching self-defense— not by a long shot.

This past Wednesday, the trial of Avinoam Breverman got underway. Breverman  is accused of the rape, sodomy, and sexual assault of three girls he met on the Internet, ages 11, 13, and 14. Brevermen admits having conversations with the girls, but denies he had sexual contact with them. At his trial, even Brevermen’s lawyer stated that he is worried about what happens on the Internet: “Besides the offenses attributed to my client, which will be clarified during the trial, I am concerned and appalled at the level and content of conversations among  minors. We are talking about sexually-explicit expressions and coarse language used even by children aged 11 to 14.”

Now you can just imagine what a fire storm about the Dangers of The Internet this case has caused. And yet, I am fairly certain that not one of our self-defense instructor candidates was or has ever been approached by her Sensei and taught how to handle herself on the Internet, and certainly not how to teach others  effective Internet strategies in a way that will strengthen rather than frighten them. However, this is one of the many things self-defense instructors here and everywhere must learn, and most often, teach themselves.

When I address this issue with our SD instructor candidates, I plan to give them each a copy of the article below, in the original Hebrew of course, because, in the end, I think the most important thing for them to know about staying safe on the Internet is that it is not all that different from staying safe anywhere. It’s the same old song without the dance: being aware of the tactics criminals use, trusting your intuition, being assertive, getting out of there, telling someone what happened, and continuing to tell until someone offers your help. As for your trophy-winning martial arts form and your  fancy spinning jump kick, you can save them for more appropriate occasions.

Protect children – Not just online

The arrest of a suspect in the sexual assault of young girls again raises concern about the dangers online. But it is important to remember that the children are in danger everywhere and that we can protect them – even without violating their privacy

Ilana Brodo

Y-Net, Feb. 2, 2010

Yesterday (Monday) two things happened that reminded us all, including me, of the precarious situation of children in the “Wild West” that is the Internet.

While in Tel-Aviv, a man was arrested on suspicion of using the Internet to access and attack many young girls, in Jerusalem the Economic Committee held a special meeting with the youth participation concerning ways to protect children online, in which, among the proposals were the expected government censorship, software for filtering sites and of course talk, talk, talk.

Whether a special curriculum, or even subsidized courses for parents, there seem to be plenty of ideas. But according to reports, the exploitation of tender young girls at the hands of criminals seems inevitable. The question is, why?

Maybe there are some important points that the current approach of educating children to use the Web wisely is missing. Maybe we forgot a few essential things.

Dangers Are Everywhere

The Internet is not the only place where your child is in danger. Also in the street, at school, while crossing the road, spending time with friends or a school trip- countless dangers, including those same  evil people, threaten your child at any time.
So why does the Internet seem to be such a focus of pedophile activity? The answer is simple – on the global network, you can choose how old you want to be and how you choose to introduce yourself. Even photos and videos can be quite easily faked, if you are wondering when the mask is removed and the predator is detected.

The Internet is a place where it is easy to create connections, make friends and talk with complete strangers about just about anything. On the other hand, there is no shortage of places where a child can meet a pedophile, whether at the home of a private teacher, the parent of a friend or a guard at the mall near school. The Internet cannot be held responsible.

If that is so, then the tips are the same tips and the information is the same information: do not take candy from strangers and don’t meet up with people you don’t know. The Internet is a medium. Although it is too successful a medium for these stalkers, t in the end, the Internet is merely a means.

The other thing many forget is that we used to be children. We worried parents were once children- curious, innocent and perhaps even vulnerable. It is important to look at  this issue first, from the perspective of a child, and then from that of the pedophile, despite the difficulty of doing so.

The Inner Child

There is no doubt that when we were children, as our personalities began to crystallize, we also needed personal space in which to operate and a degree of privacy. We did not want our parents reading our diaries we preferred a degree of independence in deciding for ourselves. It’s easy to forget, but your child thinks the same way so, that you did.

No force in the universe can stop a 14 year-old from acquiring pornographic material, and these materials were always available – whether in print, video or, today, digitally.

As it is for pedophilia, so here, the Internet is only the medium, the means whose face has changed with the progress of technology and society. Sites of any kind, like restricting the sale of pornographic magazines to18 year-olds and older: ways to bypass the restrictions were found in the past, and will be found in the future.

Many Internet guides for protecting children encourage parents to install technology to restrict access to sites with child-appropriate content, to regularly look into the child’s affairs and even to remove the PC from the child’s room.

Wouldn’t this kind of intrusion into the child’s privacy force him to find alternatives? Infringement of a child’s privacy, given that his information on the computer is indeed for him a personal thing, would be interpreted as an attack. For this reason, intruding into his or her computer should be reserved only for cases in which you suspect your child is in real danger.

So if you shouldn’t pry, what can parents do to keep their child safe from the schemes of evil people on the Internet?

Know The Enemy

Before you try to understand the online lives of your children, it is at least worthwhile to learn the difference between a browser and a torrent program. We did a little bit of detective work and checked out the pages of our children on their social networks. These pages are open to everyone, so it is worthwhile for you to know what information your progeny are publishing there.

For example, it happened to reach my ears that the father of a 13 year-old daughter forbade her to put her picture on her Facebook profile. As an alternative, the young teen chose a photograph of a model wearing a revealing swimsuit. As a result, the indecent proposals that she received in her private messages and on her Wall appeared in worrying numbers.

Some guides also advise parents to supervise their kids whenever they are online. The age at which you can give a child privacy on the computer, in my humble opinion, is no different than the age at which they can cross the street or to go out with friends without supervision. On the Internet, similar to other life situations that can, at time, be dangerous, what will determine the outcome, in the end, is the use of discretion.

It is important to explain to your child the dangers of the Net. Without a doubt, it is better to inform him of the existence of bad people than to have him find out for himself – perhaps in a chat room intended for children only.
More than “explaining”, however, it is important to listen. Take an interest  in the sites your children surf as much as you do in their experiences on school breaks or at their cousins’ house this weekend. Share with them interesting sites that are appropriate for them, and ask them for recommendations.

At the end of the day, protecting your child on the Internet is the same as protecting him/her elsewhere. The difference determines the outcome, in most cases, is not content filtering or the location of the computer, but that same use of discretion and critical thinking that parents must help their children acquire, rather than aggressively guarding them for as long as they will put up with it.

Drowning in a Sea of Child Victims… & Assailants

In Children on March 14, 2010 at 02:43
A suspect in the repeated rape of a girl from Northern Israel

Young suspected gang rapist

It occurred to me, after last week’s post, that I had not adequately explained that the sexual assault case being discussed was not the first case of its kind this year. It was proceeded by a case of a girl in Northern Israel who had over several years, allegedly from the age of 10, been a regular target of sexual abuse at the hands of local youths.

I will spare you the details. Needless to say, it was a horrific case. If anything positive came out of it, it was a widespread awareness of the issue and of the problems the system is having in trying to deal with this emerging phenomenon.

I leave you in the capable hands of reporter Yael Barnovsky , whose background report in on Y-net was absolutely chilling. I hope my translation in English does her report justice…

Sexual Assaults: 700 Children Have No One To Report Them To

Recent horrendous incidents of sexual violence against children have caught the Welfare Ministry with hundreds of children waiting for investigators. 250 complaints were received since the beginning of the month, just in Tel – Aviv…

YNET

Feb. 11, 2010

Yael Barnovsky

A string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against children, culminating in the case of gang rape of a child in the North, finds the Ministry of Social Affairs with a severe shortage of Child Investigators. Some 250 complaints were received over the first ten days of the month (February) in Tel – Aviv alone. About 700 children are waiting their turn to be questioned by Child Investigators, but there is no one to conduct the investigations. The increase in referrals is attributed to the high media exposure of the murder of 7 year-old Leon Kalanatrov of Bnei Ayish, which placed the issue heavily on the agenda.

When a complaint of sexual assault reaches the police, if the offenders and / or victims are under age 14, the law stipulates that they be investigated by Child Investigators from the Office of Welfare, and only then are the findings presented to police investigators and the courts.

Requests for Child Investigators came mainly from the police, but they also come from parents who file complaints through the education system. Under Ronit Tzur, the Welfare Office’s Triage Officer, a total of 57 Child Investigators serve the entire country. For the last several months, they have been operating in emergency mode, their vacations canceled.

Retired Judge Saviona Rotalvi, whom Ynet interviewed extensively on the subject, also emphasized the difficult situation faced by the Child Investigators: “Whenever an event occurs, the media cries out and then forgets. The situation of the Child Investigators is catastrophic. Years and years of cutbacks have made is so those children who should be interviewed immediately are only investigated after weeks and months. Every time a story is exposed, there is an outcry, but no real search for true solutions – I am very upset by this situation.”

During a hearing held yesterday by the ministerial committee handling the problem of pedophilia, Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog discussed the manpower shortage and said he cannot cope with this phenomenon if he is not assigned an additional 35 special investigators. “Instead of emphasizing trains and balconies, you should take care of people,” he said to Ynet, criticizing the  energy invested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in promoting economic reforms.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told the committee that the volume of this phenomenon has increased on the Internet has increased and is taking up more and more space so that his office too needs increased financial allocations to manage it. Committee Chairman Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said it is clear that in order to combat these phenomena more funds must be recruited. The team concluded that, at its next meeting that each department will submit all their specific budgetary requirements.

Meanwhile, the ministerial staff made a number of decisions:

• to expand the reporting obligation of any person who suspects sex offenses against minors
• to examine the possibility of wider public notification regarding the presence of sex offenders
• to speed up resolutions to the question of rehabilitation of sex offenders and on-going supervision after release and examine the possibilities for medical treatment
• to reduce waiting times for investigation by increasing the number of investigators

• to coordinate activities of those authorities that deal with sexual assault

Instead Of Receiving Sex Education – They Learn From Porn Sites

Sexual assault of children is a widespread phenomenon with which Israeli society has difficulty dealing. According to data from the Council for the Child, in 2009, 2,450 children under the age of 14 fell victim to sexual assault. About a third of them were children younger than 9, a third ages 9-11 and another third, ages 12-14. About half the children were hurt by a friend or neighbor. In about 324 cases the perpetrators were themselves children under 14, in about five such cases, under the age of 12. About 95 percent of the perpetrators were boys.

The national average for children affected by sexual assault stands at about 4.1 per thousand. The “leading” cities for reported child sexual assault, according to the Council for the Child, were Tel-Aviv (8.6 per thousand), Or Yehuda (8.6), Eilat (11.4), Bat Yam (10.6), Nesher (12.1), Afula (11.8) and Pardes Hanna (9).

Welfare authorities, drowning in a sea of shocking cases, point an accusing finger at the educational system, and claim that is not investing enough in sex education. There are even schools in which no workshops on sexual assault are offered, and the primary source of information from which children derive information the subject is from porn sites on the Internet. According to data from the welfare system and Israeli Rape Crisis Centers, in recent years there has been a dramatic decline in the ages of both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. Similarly, more and more cases are coming to light involving groups of children – whether speaking of incidents of gang rape, or of injury to dozens of children by a pedophile.

“Minors at this stage of their lives are very curious, and practically the only information they receive comes from porn sites,” said Attorney Inbar Yehezkeli-Blilos, the legal adviser of the Central Association of Rape Crisis Centers to Ynet. “Schools must provide more workshops on the subject .Children are exposed to pornography and try to reproduce those same behaviors, which seems to them normative, even in real life. Unfortunately, some schools do not want us – because of their obvious fear that complaints will suddenly arise.

“Blame the victim”

Sometimes, minor or minors who become victims of sexual exploitation, present themselves as if they agreed to what was done to them. However, according to all the experts, at age 10 and even at age 14,  children are not really capable of making independent decisions. “The police and the judiciary often see the victims as ‘seducers’ and are not able to see the back story  ,” says Attorney Yehezkeli. “There are judges, investigators and lawyers who know how to conduct themselves, but still there are those that hold patriarchal views, blame the victim and throw the blame on them. The police are, at times, very often sympathetic to the perpetrators.”

Same Facts, Different Story

In self-defense on March 5, 2010 at 12:41

Editors chose a photo of a women hiding her face to illustrate a self-defense success

The pic that YNET chose to illustrate this story

A young women fighting back

This is the pic I would have chosen

God bless YNET for their ongoing coverage of local stories in both Hebrew and English. Really.

But, take one look at the picture they selected to illustrate the story below and, what do you see? A women shamed and beaten down. Read the headline and you are filled with fear and dread. Is that really what this story is about?

Very few readers will bother to read all the way through this story. If they did, perhaps they would see what I see: an incredibly brave young woman who fought like a lioness with her body, her voice and finally, her teeth for her life and her dignity. A self-defense success story in the truest sense.

The fact that there are predators in the Human Jungle should come as no surprise. What is really important, and rarely reported as such, is that there are also lions and lionesses who are ready and prepared to stand up against them and defeat them like this young woman did. She is a heroine. And yet, the news media, reflecting back society’s own prejudices, chose to illustrate her as a helpless victim and glossed over her victorious battle by choosing to emphasize that it was the presence of by-passers, not her all-out refusal to become a victim, that drove off her attacker.

And if that was not frustrating enough, how about the fact that this was a stranger attack in which the guy actually jumped out from behind the bushes?Do you have any idea how many times I have reminded  self-defense students that 82% of attackers are known to their victims, and that the chances of a stranger jumping out from behind the bushes is nil?

Well, either I can say so much for statistics… Or I can use them to say that, assuming the Lod Police ever find this guy, there is a good chance that the stranger behind the bushes isn’t so strange to his intended victim after all.

Either way, we can be sure of one thing. This guy will look like he has been in one hell of a fight…and will have the teethmarks to prove it,thanks to one courageous young woman.

Unknown Assailant Attempted To Rape a 16-year-old in Lod and Fled

Police began searching for the suspect who attacked the girl in the Ganei Yaar neighborhood. Passersby heard her screams and managed to drive him off.
Eli Senor
YNET March, 5, 2010
An attempted rape under the cover of darkness.
Last night (Thursday), an anonymous man attacked a girl of 16 in the Ganei Yaar section of Lod and tried to rape her. Passersby heard the screams and drove the suspect off. He managed to escape. Police began searching for him.
The girl came to the city police station accompanied by her father. Her blouse was soaked with blood and her body showed signs of trauma. Details of the investigation indicate that the young woman was passing through a dark path, when an unknown assailant suddenly leaped from between the bushes and attacked her. A physical struggle ensued between the two, culminating when the girl bit the suspect and began to cry out for help.
When the suspect noticed passersby, he left the girl and fled for his life. Police officers from the Lod Police Station came to the scene and conducted searched, but have failed so far to locate the man.

The Sound of Silence

In Violence in Israeli Society on March 4, 2010 at 20:53

Meditation promotes inner silence

There is silence... and silence.

Silence has been given a bad rap.

Silence is meant to be “broken”. “Keeping silent” evokes suspicion, maintaining your “right to silence”, a sure sign of guilt.

The story  below is the the second recent headliner here in Israel about a young girl/woman caught in a web of sexual abuse by a group of teens as young as 13. Stories like these reinforce our belief in the menace of silence .

However, after spending a week in silence on a meditation retreat (see Fear of Nothing), I now understand that it is “noise” , not “silence” that is the true threat.

It was not “silence” that birthed the years of suffering this young teen endured; it was noise— noise from society about what it is to be a man or a woman, about love,  about sacrifice, media images that confuse sex with love and violence with sex, inner static about her own lack of worth plus whatever lies, promises and threats the boys themselves used to break her mentally and emotionally before they violated her physically. As we say in IMPACT self-defense when the attacker begins his mixed litany of demands, appeals and threats:  “Blah-blah-blah”. It’s  all noise.

In contrast, when we gently clear away the noise and turn down the static, the resulting silence leaves space for inner wisdom to emerge. It gives us a chance to examine the things we tell ourselves and the things we allow ourselves to absorb from others. It makes it possible for us to see that underneath the noise, we are more than our thoughts, more than our fears, more than our dreams.

The silence that emerges from terrible stories like these must, indeed, be broken. However, if we are to prevent young women from falling prey to the noise that substitutes for their own sense of hope, faith and worth, we need to help them turn down the noise in their lives so they can encounter themselves and learn to accept themselves with the love and compassion they deserve. That we all deserve.


State indicts 13 teens for sexual abuse

Jerusalem Post

March 4, 2010 Thursday

By DAN IZENBERG
04/03/2010

15 separate criminal charges filed in assault of high school girl.

As the 13 teenage suspects sat hunched over on courtroom benches and covered their heads and faces with sweatshirt hoods on Wednesday, the state filed an indictment against them that included 15 separate criminal charges.

The indictment was filed in Tel Aviv District Court.

There was a chilling contrast between the dry wording of the charges, drafted by attorneys Livnat Melamed and Lilach Shalom of the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office (Criminal), and the actions they described.

Regarding the first charge, the prosecutors wrote, “On various occasions, the exact time of which are unknown to the prosecutor, during the period relevant to the indictment, the first defendant routinely brought the complainant to various meeting places. Before that, he would coordinate with the other defendants and others, who would come to the various meeting places with the intent of committing rape, sodomy and indecent acts, all of which were committed without her freely given consent, by exploiting her emotional dependency on the first defendant.”

The first defendant, the so-called boyfriend of “Aleph Aleph,” the victim, was included in 14 of the charges in the indictment. They included 10 counts of rape in aggravated circumstances, four counts of sodomy, four counts of indecent assault, two counts of assault and one count each of attempted rape in aggravated circumstances, being in possession of pornography, and abuse.

According to the indictment, Aleph Aleph and the first defendant first met at school around the beginning of 2006. They were a couple for a while but then broke up and remained friends. At the beginning of 2007 (the beginning of the “relevant period,” which lasted until January 2010), Aleph Aleph told the first defendant that she loved him and that she was dependent on and had very strong feelings for him. She told him she would do anything he wanted as long as he stayed with her. If he left her, she would kill herself.

“In the relevant period,” the indictment continued, “because of her emotional dependence on the first defendant, he abused her by frequently assaulting her illegally by using his hands and feet. He called her names, cursed her, and insulted her in public. He was able to do this by taking advantage of her dependency and love. The other defendants knew about this behavior and in some cases witnessed it.”

The first defendant began inviting friends to rape Aleph Aleph, according to the indictment. In most of the cases, several youths raped her one at a time while the others looked on.

“The defendants knew, and were present, when the first defendant attacked the complainant, either when she asked to stop having sex with one or another of the defendants, or, frequently, in and out of school. The defendants also knew about, and were even present at, incidents in which the first defendant abused Aleph Aleph. They also knew that she was afraid of him and afraid to refuse to have intimate meetings with them for fear that the first defendant would cut off ties with her,” the indictment stated.

One of the lawyers in the case, Asher Chen, told The Jerusalem Post that he was representing one of the defendants who was only being charged on one count, and that his client had witnessed a rape but not taken part in it. He said his client had known Aleph Aleph for only two months and had met her after she’d left the school she and the first defendant had attended together.

Attorney Avi Hilmi told the Post he was representing a client charged with two counts of sodomy and one count of rape in aggravated circumstances.

Hilmi added that several of the defendants had only known Aleph Aleph for a short time. However, several others apparently knew the complainant from the beginning of the “relevant period.” One of them was charged with 12 sexual violations and another with 10.

In one case, the first defendant was charged with the attempted rape of Aleph Aleph’s best friend, identified in the indictment as “Bet Bet.” The charge also included sodomy and committing an indecent act. He was also accused of taking a total of NIS 2,000 to NIS 3,000 from Aleph Aleph, as well as her cellular phone, which he used to make calls at her expense. In another charge, he was accused of being in possession of pedophilic photographs.