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article imageIsraeli Judge Nissim Yeshaya: 'Some girls enjoy being raped'

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 6, 2013 in World
Tel Aviv - A Tel Aviv court judge Nissim Yeshaya, has resigned following outrage over comments he made while presiding over a hearing in the case of a girl who was raped by four Palestinian youths when she was 13 years old. He said some girls "enjoy being raped."
His resignation came after he apologized and said the remark was taken out of context.
According to YNet, the 19-year-old woman was petitioning the court that the rape should be considered an "act of terror." According to Ynet, in Israel, victims of terrorist attacks are eligible for compensation, as stipulated in the Compensation for Victims of Hostilities Act of 1970.
The plaintiff was not in the courtroom when the judge made the comment. Ynet reports that a source said: "The hall was empty apart from the attorneys. This was not a rape trial, but a hearing of the appeals committee of the National Insurance Institute."
The judicial review panel which assembled in the Tel Aviv District Court was deliberating over the rape victim's appeal of a decision of the Defense Ministry not to recognize her rape as an act of terrorism.
Ynet explains that under Israeli law a "Victim of Terrorism" is defined as "a person injured as a result of a terrorist act committed for nationalistic reasons, in Israel or overseas."
Her attorney Roni Aloni-Adovnik, described the courtroom incident: "In the midst of the passionate debate he (Judge Yeshaya) suddenly said aloud, in earshot of everyone present, 'There are some girls who enjoy being raped.' The room fell into silence. Even the panel members were silent for several minutes. And he didn't even get what he had just said. He didn't understand why everyone became quiet all of a sudden."
According to The Huffington Post, Israel media reports said the plaintiff collapsed when her lawyer told her about the judge's comment and she was hospitalized.
Knesset Member Aliza Lavie, chairperson of the House's Committee on the Status of Women, said she would see the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and demand Yeshaya's immediate dismissal.
Yeshaya apologized after the uproar and outrage his comment caused. He claimed his statement was taken out of context. According to Ynet, he said: "This isn't serious. They are trying to gain publicity off of me. I do not believe a rape victim is not hurt or that rape is not a severe offence. (My comments) were misinterpreted."
Court officials also attempted to mitigate the comment. The Courts Administration said in a statement that the judge had no intention of causing offense, and that he regretted it. The statement said that Yeshaya was a retired judge who attends court hearings and that he would be summoned to an inquiry.
However, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, condemned the remark, describing it as "unfortunate" and "unacceptable." He said he would withdraw his support for the judge’s appointment as the head of the Likud Party’s internal Court.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, who chairs the ministerial Committee on the Status of Women, said the comment was "appalling and outrageous." She urged Judge Michael Spitzer, head of the courts administration, to stop Yeshaya from attending hearings. According to Ynet, she said: "Rape victims experience severe mental trauma. It is difficult to gauge the damage caused by such a comment, which may deter other victims of sexual assault from (turning to the authorities)."
The Huffington Post reports that Miriam Schler, director of the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center, said: "It’s outrageous – these people are supposed to decide the fate of these women and they don’t have the faintest idea of what it means to be a victim of sexual assault. It sheds light on the level of ignorance that exists in all of these different institutions."
According to Schler, last year, crisis centers in Israel received more than 40,000 calls from women alleging rape. Of the total only 20 percent filed a claim, and of those who filed a claim, 75 percent were dismissed.
She said: "Women don’t trust the system. These incidents give them even less reason to trust it."
Judge Yeshaya's comment caused outrage on Facebook and Twitter. Comments, according to The Huffington Post:
"Judge Nissim Yeshaya: 'Neanderthal' is too good of a species to begin to describe what species you belong to!"
"You, Judge Yeshaya, are a disgrace and you have brought dishonor to the title judge!"
[Isa Ben Rafael, former foreign press liaison officer at the Government Press Office]: "I hope they succeed in preventing you from ever entering a court room again. You Sir, are lower than the whale waste at the bottom of the ocean! SHAME ON YOU!"
National Post reports that in a joint announcement Wednesday, Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and the Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, said Yeshaya has offered to resign his post.
According to Ynet, Livni said she welcomed the decision. She said: "All judges need to know they are under scrutiny and must conduct themselves in a manner becoming those entrusted with safeguarding the law and deciding the fates of others," and added: "This isn’t just about any single statement, it's about a perception women have fought against for years whereby victims are being blamed for the rape. Such a statement, even if unintentional, could legitimize rape in the twisted minds of potential offenders. And judges too need to know that when a woman says 'no' she means 'no.'"
Rape as a social problem came to public attention in Israel when former President Moshe Katzav was sentenced to seven years in prison on two counts of rape in 2011.
This is not the first time that Judge Nissim Yeshaya has brought attention to himself through unguarded comments. In 2009 he raised eyebrows when he said: "They always appoint a token Sephardic judge to the Supreme Court."
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