An eighteen year old girl was tackled by two Arab men in a city in Northern Israel and shoved into the back seat of a car when walking home from her Sherut Leumi yesterday afternoon. Forced to keep her head down, all she could see were the feet of another girl in the seat next to her. The girl managed to escape from a gas station after she complained hysterically to use the bathroom.
The girl identified the Arab men as her abusive “ex-boyfriend” and his friends from her home-town in the South. She was recently rescued, by Learn and Live (also known as Learn and Return), an organization dedicated to preventing the exploitation of Jewish girls in Israel, from the relationship that started out with gifts and compliments and quickly turned into two years of life threatening abuse and rape. At the time of the abduction, she was residing in a safe house for abused teens that is operated by the organization.
“We see this all the time,” says Learn and Live field investigator Shlomo Cohen. “The girls live in constant threat and fear, even after we rescue them and bring them to a safe place; their lives are forever in danger.” In most cases, notifying the police is perceived by the abused girls as a greater risk to themselves than to the Arab man, who often threatens a life of torment and abuse for the girl and her family should she reveal his crime.
Earlier this month, the abducted girl was targeted by this particular Arab man for the first time since being rescued four months ago. The first abduction resulted in a group, an incident she reluctantly revealed to Learn and Live staff only after yesterday’s horrifying case.
“Teen girls can be easily intimidated. It is traumatic for any girl, and all the more so when she is threatened that her younger sister will be attacked. In cases like these, the unfortunate and frightening reality more often than not is that the Arab men continue to walk free and repeat their crimes,” explains Patty Kupfer, Director of Learn and Live. “In many cases, our first priority is to get her to a safe house, and then to convince her to report to the police.”
Recent reports of the Knesset Committeeof the Rights of the Child indicate that the government is aware of this rapidly developing trend, but government-run shelters are full to capacity, leaving private institutions struggling to fill the void. “There is a great need for more shelters; it’s a crime that these girls are being abused because they don’t have a safe place to go,” says Kupfer.”Can you imagine rescuing a girl and having nowhere safe to put her? Something needs to change.”
Contact information: Learn and Live www.learnandlive.org.il.
(YWN – Studio B)