Israel Protects Kids Better – A Breakthrough in Haifa Court



A woman aged over thirty, recalled for the first time during therapy that she was sexually abused as a child by her father, and a Haifa court has now found the father guilty of child sex crimes, all these years later.

Expert witnesses explained to the court that ‘forgetting’ a trauma is a common self-protection response in abuse victims a condition called dissociative amnesia. This is symptomatic in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Our brains apparently have an ‘erase’ button, which can delete painful memories, as a means of preserving functionality. I suppose it’s a bit like a doctor’s decision to sever a gangrenous limb, to save a patient’s life. As a post-traumatic response, the brain shuts down some memory, and otherwise continues functioning normally.

The reason this case is an important precedent is:

1. The long time (20 years) between the abuse events and the court case;
2. The long period during which the events were forgotten by the victim;
3. The reliance on one witness’s testimony, backed by psychologists and experts.

In the USA there is a debate about the “Markey Bill”, the Child Victims Act, in the New York State Legislature (its lead sponsor is Queens Assemblywoman Marge Markey). The bill would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse recourse toward obtaining justice against their abusers by providing a one-year “window” in which to file a civil lawsuit at any age, and would extend the statute of limitations for pressing criminal charges from age 23 to 28.
Here in Israel, the Statute of Limitations did not apply to this case (except for some allegations which took place prior to 1986 – for reasons which are not clear to me).

As a result of this legal precedent, victims/survivors of child abuse can see justice done, even decades later, which is a major contributor to their eventual healing; and pedophiles can be taken off the streets, even decades after their crimes.
There’s now no get-out-clause for abusing kids.
Israel’s kids are safer for this precedent-setting court ruling.

Comments

  1. This can only be a good thing. Aguda were wrong for not backing the Markey Bill.

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  2. Great news!

    Any chance you can find a lawyer to explain more about how the system balances this against the constant complaint (by which I am not very impressed) that this opens the door to false accusations.

    BTW, speaking of the Israeli legal system, what is making it possible for Mondrowitz to continue to evade extradition. Two most common views among US activists are 1. Ger is protecting him 2. Brooklyn DA, Charles Hynes is deliberately going slow on seeking his extradition.

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  3. Uncle asks: "this opens the door to false accusations"?

    Being falsely accused of child molestation must be an unimaginably terrible trauma; so would be being falsely accused of raping a girlfriend or secretary (Israel's ex-President Katzav was accused of raping his secretary - false, true??- either way his career and life were ruined); or having one's hand-in-the-till or accepting bribes (ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who resigned in disgrace of the accusations, will tell you he's been falsely accused); or being falsely accused of murder....

    I wouldn't want to be a judge or member of a jury in the criminal system. It's all dinei nefashot.

    The possibility of false accusation is ALWAYS there - even a guilty plea in some legal systems may be the result of a plea bargain, rather than a true confession of someone's guilt.

    When there's an accusation of inappropriate/criminal behaviour, there ARE NO WINNERS. The most we can hope for is Justice - and better protection.

    As to the specifics of false accusations of child abuse: according to the Israel National Council for the Child, out of the 40,000 cases of child abuse under their care, between 1-2% were false accusations.

    There are similar statistics in other parts of the world (eg. a recent survey I reviewed here about the Catholic Church in Ireland
    also found just 1-2% were clearly false accusations).

    I don't know the proportions of acts of child abuse to successful prosecution - one in four girls are sexually abused, and one in six or seven boys - and successful prosecutions are nowhere near that.

    In other words, the problem of No Reporting is *far* more severe than the problems of false reporting.

    In the frum community this is even more so.

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