'Taliban mother' jailed for four years
A Beit Shemesh woman dubbed the 'Taliban mother' because of her insistence on wearing multiple layers of clothing and covering her head and face, was sentenced to four years in jail on Tuesday for severely abusing her children.
The mother, identified as B., was found guilty in the Jerusalem District Court on three counts of abuse of a minor or helpless person and 25 counts of assault in aggravated circumstances.
Her husband, identified as M., was convicted of 10 counts of assault and three counts of abuse of a minor or helpless person, and was sentenced to six months in jail. He was also convicted of failing to report his wife's conduct to police.
One of the woman's daughters, now in her 30s, told Army Radio earlier Tuesday that the children had long since forgiven their mother for all they had undergone, adding that they did not wish to relive "things we have forgotten and been cured of."
Judge Nava Ben-Or had rejected the defense's argument that the mother was mentally ill and in a psychotic state, and therefore not responsible for her actions during her assaults on her children, or that she was incapable of standing trial.
The affair began on the night of February 2, 2008, when neighbors of the family, who live in Beit Shemesh, saw and heard one of the children, identified in court as D., banging on the door of his apartment and begging to be let in. Although it was a winter night, he was wearing short pants and a shirt and cried that he was cold and hungry.
A neighbor phoned the police and an officer arrived at the house. He spotted the boy and immediately called the welfare authorities who came and took him away. It turned out that D. was mentally retarded.
Inside, the policeman, Gabi Ben-Lulu, found that "the house was a mess, clothes strewn on the floor, the rooms very untidy, a sink full of unwashed dishes."
B. and M. have 12 children. Only two remained at home by the time the police began their investigation, D. the mentally retarded son, and the youngest child, a girl, H., who is still a minor.
Only some of the children testified, and only one of them expressed unreserved anger at the way he had been treated by his parents.
The children described how they had been beaten with rope, electric cable, a rolling pin and other means, how they had been locked out of the house and forced to sleep outside, how they had been prevented from taking part in school and sports activities, how the mother had cut up sports shoes bought by one of the sons with his own money because sports was anti-religious, how she had declared two of her children dead and held the mourning ritual for them and how she had covered up her body and face so that the children could no longer see her.
Ben-Or concluded that the children were telling the truth.
At the end of her 128-page conviction decision, Ben-Or criticized religious and state institutions for failing to take action throughout the many years that the abuse took place. One of the children had gone to a local rabbi and asked him to intervene. The rabbi said he spoke to the parents but could not influence them, then dropped the matter.
The Bnei Brak rabbinical committee was also notified of the problems in the family but did nothing. The schools did nothing even though all the girls were pulled out of class after fifth grade and the boys were clearly suffering. The welfare authorities also did nothing, wrote Ben-Or.
Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.