Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Jewish Perspective on Rape

Nadene Goldfoot                                            
Going back to the 2nd millennium BCE to Abraham, we know that his son was Isaac and grandson was Jacob.  Jacob had 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah, whose mother was Jacob's first wife, Leah.    The family was living in the town of  Shechem, a part of Canaan and Dinah was raped by the chief or prince of Shechem named Shechem, who was the son of Hamor, the Hivite of one of the 7 nations occupying Canaan.   Dinah had been on her way to visit some Canannite women and was walking through fields alone.  Now,  to be raped by the head of the city is in any city of today a  serious accusation.  Who's going to believe you?  He has friends.  Jacob and his family were new immigrants into the land as far as the Canaanites of Shechem were concerned.

This was an event of 4,000 years ago.  What happened was that the family had to take the punishment for it into their own hands  Dinah had 12 brothers, but 2 of her 6 full brothers, Simeon, 2nd child and Levi, 3rd child,  avenged her by slaughtering all the men of Shechem.  Then they carried off the women and children and took their goods and livestock as spoils of the attack as revenge.  Dinah was young and so were her brothers.  They had not consulted with their father about doing this.  Notice that they never thought or considered that Dinah had brought disgrace upon her family, it was the other way around.  She was not blamed, the rapist was.

As it was, Shechem decided he wanted to marry Dinah, who was beautiful,  and asked his father to take him to her home.  Jacob would not have given Dinah to Shechem for marriage because he was from a different culture and was uncircumcised.  He would have to look for a suitable husband for Dinah among a Jewish  community, as they were the first into Canaan.  Her brothers were against this idea of marriage with Shechem and his people and they tricked Shechem and the other men to become circumcised.  While they were recovering, the brothers attacked them.  At the time, Dinah was in Shechem's house but was freed after the attack.

Jacob was appalled at his 2 son's reaction to Dinah's rape because he feared the reprisal of the whole country of Canaan for this, but Simeon and Levi said they didn't expect their sister to be treated like a whore.  Here we see the difference in the cultures.  Women were on a higher level in Abraham's family than with the Canaanites whose women could be expected to be taken and used at any time by leaders of the community.  It still sounds like the Neanderthals in the book by Jean M. Auel, "Clan of the Cave Bear, where this happened to the main character, Ayla.  and thus became pregnant eventually.  Jacob then took his family to Beth-el.  Rachel, the younger sister of Leah,  died on the way in childbirth with Benjamin.  Jacob's family stopped and settled in Migdal-eder.

The biblical patriots had camped under its walls upon entering with Joshua.  Shechem later became the land for Ephraim, son of Joseph and his 2nd wife, Rachel and Ephraim's wife, Asenath.  It was a levitical city and a city of refuge as well as the center of the House of Joseph.

Shechem is today's Nablus, which during 1948-1967 was controlled by Jordan.  Today it is under the control of  Israel and ruled by the PA.  It's earliest walls date back to 2,000 BCE.  It was under Egyptian control during Egypt's 12 dynasty.

Today the age of consent in Israel is 16.  Rape after this age is statutory rape.  It is treated as a felony and calls for being in prison for 16 years.  If one rapes a relative the punishment is doubled to 32 years of prison. Jewish women have always been treated with more respect than in other cultures.

"In cases of rape, a woman is generally presumed not to have consented to the intercourse, even if she enjoyed it, even if she consented after the sexual act began and declined a rescue! This is in sharp contrast to American society, where even today rape victims often have to overcome public suspicion that they "asked for it" or "wanted it." Traditional Judaism recognizes that forced sexual relations within the context of marriage are rape and are not permitted; in many states in America today, rape within marriage is still not a crime. " (from Judaism 101)

Sweden, on the other hand, has very lenient laws pertaining to rape.  Their rape crimes are the highest in Europe.  They just had  a gang rape this month of a 15 year old girl by 6 Muslim teenagers, also aged 15 and 16 that happened just outside of Stockholm.  The punishment was a fine equal to $8,500 to be paid to the victim and a few days of community service.  This will be followed up by social service.  Italy's age of consent is 14, and Japan is 16.  Sweden's history is one of being Vikings, raiding and pillaging and rape must have been a part of it, so they don't see harming women as such a terrible offense, evidently.  Maybe that's why my 18 year old grandmother emigrated and came to the USA in 1888.  That could be one good reason since she traveled with an older sister and her young son.

The state of Oregon in the USA has a complicated laws concerning rape, but the age of consent is 18.  3rd degree is rape under age 16 and that calls for probation or jail or prison.  2nd degree rape is that under 14 and calls for a prison term.  1st degree rape is under the age of 12 or a forced rape or with a relative or someone with a mental defect.

Tanakh, Genesis 34 (1-31)

1 comment:

  1. June 26, 2013 2. PA Man Gets 30 Years for Brutal Rape
    by Maayana Miskin
    A Palestinian Authority resident Arab has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking a young Israeli couple in Tel Aviv and brutally raping the young woman.
    Ahmed Bani Jaaber of Shechem confessed to the crime as part of a plea bargain.
    Jaaber’s female victim opposed the plea bargain, because it did not require him to confess that he was motivated by nationalist hate. A confession that the attack was motivated by hatred of Israelis and Jews could have given the victim recognition as a victim of terrorism, which would mean additional government assistance in rehabilitation.
    The attack last year made national headlines, due to both its brutality and the attacker’s brazenness in targeting victims in the centrally located Gan Ha’Ir mall. The case was initially under a rare gag order.
    The judges who sentenced Jaaber noted the extreme brutality of the attack in their verdict. “These were despicable, condemnable acts,” they wrote. “We have never seen such cruelty, it was exceptionally cruel in every way.”
    “This case is outstanding in its severity. The perpetrator’s acts were unbelievably sadistic… The brutality and violence were at the highest level,” they added.
    Jaaber was ordered to pay his victims roughly half a million shekels.