Stop dehumanizing the 7-year-old rape victim
We should not let this 7-year-old Jewish girl turn into another statistic representing a rape victim who was silenced and never lived to see justice for the grave crime that was committed against her. arutzsheva
by Rachel Avraham, President of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights in Middle East, and a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research and Public Relations
American psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman once wrote, “In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power in order to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of the victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”
This truth cannot be more self-evident when one is discussing rape and how society responds to it. And if the rape is nationally motivated, even publications that would usually jump over backward to defend women’s rights will find themselves helping the rapist to ensure no one will listen to his victim.
Sadly, Mahmoud Qatusa, a Palestinian who is accused of raping a 7-year-old Jewish school girl, has succeeded to turn an Israeli newspaper against his victim. Numerous reports in Haaretz were published ridiculing the 7-year-old rape victim and her family, questioning the victims’ mental state and her credibility. Some of these reports even go as far as saying “no hard evidence has been found to connect Qatusa to the crime” and “the Maccabi doctor who examined the girl didn’t find unequivocal evidence of sexual assault.” Other reports mock her family for allegedly only filing a police complaint “after consulting a rabbi.” Similarly, an article by Amira Hass in Haaretz claims that Israel is using whatever means possible in order to “frame a Palestinian” for rape.
Do the authors of such articles have no shame? A 7-year-old girl, who is not even old enough to verbalize what is sex and what is rape, was violently abducted and raped. The victim specifically identified Mahmoud Qatusa as her rapist and said that he had two other accomplices. She described the room where she was raped and the police found physical evidence to verify her description. All of the professionals who have spoken to her believe that she was raped, based on her mental state and her behavior.
Under any scenario, this should be enough in order to take the allegations put forward by the victim very seriously and not to dehumanize her. It should be enough even if everything she says can’t be verified. After all, she is a traumatized 7-year-old child, not a mentally sound adult.
Whether or not there is hard evidence yet tying Qatusa to the crime or “unequivocal physical evidence of sexual assault” is irrelevant. The fact that Qatusa changed his story regarding his work and there is a young girl who identified him as her rapist is enough to keep him behind bars until the legal proceedings against him are over.
After all, rape is not like robbery or physical assault. If a car is stolen, anyone caught in possession of the stolen vehicle is a prime suspect and can be prosecuted. If one is physically assaulted, then all one has to do is take pictures of the bruises and you have your physical evidence that a crime occurred. But if a man rapes a woman or girl, how is she supposed to prove that based off of physical evidence alone?
Rape is not a crime that one can witness physically on the outside of the body and unlike a car robbery, it generally occurs inside, where there are no witnesses.
Rape is not a crime that one can witness physically on the outside of the body and unlike a car robbery, it generally occurs inside, where there are no witnesses. Furthermore, not all virgin rape victims lose their hymens during the act of violence committed against them. In fact, there are many instances of child rape victims who keep their hymens intact. So, how can anyone with an ounce of humanity jump to discredit the victim? How can anyone offer excuses on a golden platter to her rapist merely due to lack of physical evidence alone?
Furthermore, given that this is the situation, why should we care that Qatusa claims to have an alibi for March 5, when the rape victim is not fully old enough to name a specific date for the occurrence of the crime?
Why should we judge the victim for waiting 10 days to file a police report, when the girl herself is not even old enough to understand the implications of what truly happened to her?
After all, a child who doesn’t know what is sex cannot verbalize a rape as quickly as an adult can. In fact, it takes some 7-year-old rape victims years to understand what happened enough so that they can go to the police. Why judge her for needing 10 days?
One must ponder if journalists like Amira Hass at Haaretz would jump to defend a rapist if the 7-year-old victim wasn’t a ;settler; and the criminal who did this to her was not a Palestinian Arab. The answer to this question is likely if the political circumstances were different, they would not be defending a rapist as “a framed victim.” To the contrary, they would be on the side of the victim.
However, Haaretz subscribes to an ideology that proclaims that the victims must always be Palestinian and the villains must be Jewish. And it is due to this warped perception of reality that they found themselves criticizing a 7-year-old Jewish rape victim and defending an adult male Palestinian rape suspect. However, all journalists who care about terror victims and women’s rights must not fall into the same trap that Haaretz fell into.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stressed that this rape should be investigated as a terror attack because it is believed that the rapist was influenced by Palestinian incitement. According to Palestinian Media Watch, an Al Aqsa TV video called upon Palestinians to “expel the thieving occupier from the enraged land of Jerusalem, rid your house of that one, that Zionist in his humiliation.”
In a separate PA TV clip, a girl read a poem where she called upon her people to wage “a war that will smash the oppression and destroy the Zionist soul.” In the eyes of some Palestinians, the ultimate humiliation for the State of Israel is to rape Jewish women. It can also be perceived as the best method to “destroy the Zionist soul” due to the enormous despair that such a crime causes to society at large. Indeed, throughout the course of the Israeli-Arab conflict, nationally-motivated rapes targeting Jewish women and girls have occurred.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar once explained that in Arab culture, victory over Islam’s enemies must be total: “The ultimate victory is when you humiliate your enemy and the ultimate humiliation is when you rape your enemies’ daughter, if possible before his eyes.”
Furthermore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the only arena where radical Muslim terrorists have raped non-Muslim women. During the Yezidi Genocide, 70,000 Yezidi women and girls were raped. During the Bangladeshi War of Independence, between 200,000 and 400,000 women were raped after Pakistan issued a fatwa saying Bangladeshis were Hindu and it was therefore kosher to rape them. Countless Hindus were also raped during that war. A few years ago, the two daughters of Bangladeshi Food Minister Sadhan Majumder were abducted and forcefully married to Muslims; nobody took any action to save his daughters because he is Hindu. The fact that he is a government minister was not sufficient enough for the Sheikh Hasina government to take action to save his daughters.
Throughout the world, radical Islam utilizes the rape and abduction of non-Muslim women in order to spread terror and to demoralize their enemies. In light of this, this rape must also be investigated as an act of terror, even if the prime rape suspect is presently denying that he ever had such intentions.
It is also of critical importance that everyone in the media demonstrate sympathy and give moral support both to the 7-year-old rape victim and her family. To do otherwise would not only encourages more Palestinians to rape Jewish women and girls. It would also represent a victory for Palestinian terrorism. It would send the message that the Palestinian terror groups have finally found a method to terrorize Israelis that would even prompt Jewish Israeli publications to denounce the victim and her family if only the perpetrator sang the right tunes.
For this reason, we must all stand strong against nationally-motivated rapes in the same manner that we fight against all other acts of terror. We should not let this 7-year-old Jewish girl turn into another statistic representing a rape victim who was silenced and never lived to see justice for the grave crime that was committed against her.