Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Ignorance is Not Bliss

Modiin Illit - Photo credit Israel Hayom
Yet another rape or sexual molestation that is being covered up. This time by an entire city in Israel. There are 2 reports about this in the media. The place is Modiin Illit a Charedi city in Israel. The victim is a five year old girl. The suspected rapist is the son of an established Charedi family in that city.

Information gathered by the police has established that this young girl was on her way to her kindergarten class when he grabbed her and pulled her into a room – possibly the storage room of a Shul and committed indecent acts – possibly including rape. After which he let her go.

When she arrived in school and the bruises on her body were noticed by the teachers - the parents were notified and she was sent to a hospital.

Sounds like a slam dunk. Everyone in that town seems to know all the principles involved - the victim, her parents, the abuser, and his family. Everyone except the police, that is.

This at a minimum is a case of sexual molestation and battery. Of a 5 year old child!  And yet the parents will not press charges. No one in the city will even talk to the police about it. In short this is being stonewalled. As though it never happened.

Why? Because of fear. Fear of the rabbis. Fear that the rabbis would get mad at them. And put them in quasi Cherem – effectively ostracizing them from the entire community.

This kind of response is mind boggling! (I hate that overused phrase already – but it fits.) By now just about anyone who has the slightest inkling about what is going on in the world knows the often permanently damaging effects on victims of sex abuse. Sometimes to the point of suicide. So too do most people know to near certainty that an abuser will strike again. Either with the same victim or with someone else’s child. And yet this community fears the rabbis more then they want to protect their children.

The only explanation for this – if they are parents who truly love their children – is that they do not know any of this. By living their lives in total isolation they have opted to be ignorant of these facts. Instead they buy into whatever their rabbis tell them will be best for the community and their children. The spiel probably goes something like this:

You must also never tell anyone that your child was raped or even sexually molested. They will never get married once people know. Not only that, but none of your children will. Would you allow your child to get married to someone who has been sexually abused? Or to one of their siblings? No, of course you wouldn’t. You mustn’t divulge a thing to the world.

Your child will get over it, don’t worry. Just keep it all to yourselves and let us (the rabbis) deal with the abuser. We will see to it that he never does this again. We will see to it that he gets rabbinic counseling and if that doesn’t work – we’ll throw him out of the community and you will never have to worry about him again.

There is no point to going to the police as that will reveal all to the world and ruin the reputation of a fine Torahdic family and ruin the Shiddach chances of all their other wonderful children. Not only that - you will ruin the reputation of the town, its rabbis, and even Yiddishkeit itself – causing a major Chilul HaShem. Best  be quiet.

And besides if you do go to the police, you will regret it – if you get my drift.

Except for the few brave individuals who spoke to the police about it - this is the way the entire town must feel about divulging anything they know.

We all know the arguments for isolating oneself from the world. It is supposed to protect you from being contaminated by society’s morally decaying culture.  A noble goal, but one with some very bad side effects. Isolation can also spell disaster for your children. Ignorance about the facts of sex abuse can make them very  much vulnerable to attack. And the ignorant responses to it when it does God forbid happen can only make matters worse.

According to an  item in the Jerusalem Post - it appears this story may be a hoax carried out by a victim of abuse herself when she was only 16. If that is true (which is as of yet unclear), then one must have compassion and understanding for this woman who obviously needs some therapy herself. That she felt she had to do this as a wake up call to a community that does not properly address these things speaks volumes all by itself... and kind of underscores some of the points made in this post anyway.