Awake, Sexual Abuse Victims!The ever-expanding protests by victims of sexual violence and abuse accentuates the need to revoke the statute of limitation and stop the hardships that the rule of law casts upon them
By Dorit Abramovich • Ynet, 21 June, 2010
Translation: Didi Remez • Coteret.com
The 2-week hunger strike staged by Mia-Vered Lev outside the Knesset; solidarity visits she received by many; the sharp call by feminist organizations on the State Attorney's Office (SAO) against its disturbing treatment of victims of sexual abuse; the fact that MKs have joined our efforts and drafted a bill for the revocation of the statute of limitations on crimes of incest; and activists' protest vigils staged at Paris Square in Jerusalem; as well as other recent acts show that we have reached the end of our despair and rage against the state, the establishment, and the society - which have long been trying to turn a blind eye on the victims of sexual abuse.
I too am my father's incest victim, and it is no accident that I did not follow the legal course and did not go to the police. In this country, there is a troubling gap between law and justice. I followed the example of countless victims of sexual violence who realized that they can tell their story, present their testimony, and find justice despite the silence of the society and the establishment. We know that any attempt to take our cases to the SAO and the courts might make us experience rape all over again.
The society we live in keeps casting misogynic, suspicious, and even violent gazes at the validity and truthfulness of the stories of sexual violence victims. That same gaze is often found in the eyes of the authorities that were supposed to take action in such cases, try sexual predators, and send them to many years in prison. We should no longer settle for politely asking the SAO for restitution. We must no longer wait for many long years, as if often the case, for the representatives of the state to make the appropriate and just utterances because the officers of the law might quickly close a plea-bargain deal in yet another grave case. We must no wait in vain for the society and legislators to acknowledge that no statute of limitations should apply to incest because its victims will forever agonize with horror. The time has come for us to take to the streets and reclaim our truth while pointing a finger at a society that produces sexual violence of terrifying magnitude.
I am not only speaking for myself. One in every six women was harmed by the virility and cultural world of a sexual predator; one in every three women was sexually assaulted; and all women suffer from sexual abuse daily. So how come so few sexual offenders are locked behind bars, and why are so many of them released back into life without paying for their deeds?
Not Only Aggressors Should Face Trial
Women who are members of feminist organizations relate that there is a growing number of cases against alleged sexual offenders that are being suspended, slowly pushed to the bottom of the pile, end in plea-bargain deals that do not always meet the victims' wishes, or are closed for lack of evidence or under the statute of limitations. These moves fail to consider the price of the horror that the victims had suffered.
Mia-Vered is not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people who were victims of incest or other forms of sexual violence often hit a brick wall made of the society's and the establishment's conspiracy of silence and the authorities' conduct.
Mia-Vered's hunger strike heralds enormous rage. We have had enough of taking the straight and scorched paths, of expecting the authorities to show legal justice, of waiting for the media to cover our stories the way we want it told. The time has come for us to stand our grounds and disclose the secret: sexual offenders are assisted by the prevailing culture of rape and silencing norms.
The aggressors are not the only ones who should face trial. Along with them, all those who helped and allowed rapists to wash away their sins and walk unpunished should be tried too. Charges should also be pressed against women who lived alongside the sexual predators, who served their needs as doorkeepers, as their silent partners, those who knew and heard it all, and yet kept silent. Charges should also be pressed against the representatives of the state's judiciary who, instead of following us in demanding that justice be done, were often the ones who let the offenders go on living undisturbed.
The time has come for us to take to the streets, to look straight in the legislators' eyes and say out loud: There should be no statute of limitations on incest because they never grow old in the minds of the traumatized victims. Though incest has not been acknowledged as a national crime, it does cause prolonged pain and is a crime against many of us. Once the statute of limitations on incest is abolished, countless victims would be able to look straight in the eyes of the aggressors and those around them who kept silent while knowing the truth. If that happens, it may be a sign that the legislators, the Justice Ministry, and the SAO are changing their views. Perhaps then, we would no longer have to demonstrate and protest against them.
Dorit Abramovich is the author of "The King Is Naked - A Feminist Take on Incest," Babel Publishers.