One grandfather convicted of sexual charges against his five-year-old granddaughter couldn't believe it: "What do you want from me, half the country's doing it." And the judges, for their part, failed to issue a restraining order, hoping that "the family would heal the wounds." But who will heal the child's wounds?
And several days earlier, the Haifa District Court heard a case of father accused of drunkenly entering his daughter's room, undressing her, dragging her to the bathroom and sodomizing her, despite her screams. The girl managed to escape, but the father reportedly caught her easily and resumed his act.
The court convicted the man, but sentenced him to a measly 15 months in prison.
Partners in crime
Over the last 10 years there has been a 700 percent rise in the number of children sexually accosted by a family member. Over the years, the ages of the children as dropped, too: Today, we know of infants that have been sexually abused.
The judges who go easy on them, and the attorney general's office that refuses to press for stiffer sentences, are indirect partners to this phenomenon of group rape. The absurd sentences they mete out prove that the courts have yet to internalize the gravity of sexual servitude of a child by the person they love more than anyone – a parent.
This societal taboo, the failure to openly discuss this phenomenon that is worse than any murder, will cost us dearly.
A person who is penetrated against his will suffers the trauma of an open wound for the rest of his or her life. But when the rapist is a stranger, the victim has a narrow path of condolence – he can develop a deep-seeded hatred for the attacker, can try to have the person arrested and can channel his or her animosity and bitterness for that person.
But when the rapist is a father, grandfather or brother, the damage is far greater. Many times, the victim does not suffer physical violence. Rather, the crime is gentle and tender, committed with a seductive enticement that destroys a child's faith in a family member that is supposed to protect him from any and all harm.
A high percentage of child victims receive no emotional treatment. This is for a number of reasons: The offending family member may not want to provide treatment that might expose his actions, or the cost may be prohibitively expensive.
Later in life – as soldiers, university students, or even as high school students, come to the conclusion that they do need psychological treatment, but they cannot afford it.
And what happens to a child who was sexually assaulted by a family member but fails to receive adequate treatment by the time he is an adult? He will almost always have emotional or sexual disorders, with terrible problems dealing with his surroundings, trouble creating normal, healthy social relationships. Many also become pedophiles or sexual deviants.
The number of child victims of sexual abuse grows from year to year. The growing number of formal complaints may not indicate a rise in the phenomenon, but rather a growing public awareness of the problem that encourages child victims and their families to ask for help, despite all that this entails.
But as it becomes clear again and again, law enforcement authorities have failed in their duty to protect helpless children. But they won't forget, or forgive, the people that abandoned them, until someone stands up to propose a law requiring life in prison for these murderers of a child's spirit and innocence.
Roni Aloni-Sadovnik is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a Meretz Party city councilor