COMMENT: ILHAM RAWOOT | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Jul 22 2010 17:40
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I wonder what a real rape survivor might think about Sabbar Kashur being convicted of rape and sentenced to 18 months in prison for sleeping with a woman who thought he was Jewish. The Arab-Israeli man was sentenced on Thursday in Jerusalem, after being under house arrest for two years for his "rape" of a Jewish woman in 2008.
Here's what happened -- he met an Israeli Jewish woman on the street, literally, they hit it off, and then went into the closest building to have sex. Then she figured out he was Arab, which turned their consensual sex into rape in the eyes of both the unnamed woman and Judge Tzvi Segal. "It is incumbent on the court to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth, sweet-talking offenders who can mislead naive victims into paying an unbearable price: the sanctity of their bodies and souls," said Segal.
There are so many problems here.
First up, how many men would end up in prison for "deceiving" women that they slept with? Too many to fit our jails, I imagine. "I drive a BMW", "I like children" and "I love you" are all phrases that changed far too often in post-coital conversations around the world. But while it's not okay to lie to your partner, it's certainly not rape.
Kashur also allegedly told her he was an eligible bachelor when in fact he is married with two children. While a lock-up for men who have extra-marital affairs is not a bad idea in my book, it's still not rape.
Rape is very specifically intercourse with somebody without their consent. While the specifics may vary in different countries, the concept of without consent remains firmly in place.
Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that Kashur posed as a man seeking a long-term romantic relationship. Surely, if that was what the woman was seeking, a quickie in the closest structure 10 minutes after they met was not one of the criteria. If the woman was so specific about who she slept with, then perhaps a meal to get to know him slightly, or at least a cup of coffee would have cleared up any racist queries she might have had.
But this is not only about sex. This is also straight-up racism posing as the rule of law. It is another means of making Arab-Israelis feel less human than Israeli Jews, just like keeping the plumbing systems in East Jerusalem in the same state as they were in the early 20th century, while upgrading those in West Jerusalem. This means that when you visit the toilet in East Jerusalem, your toilet paper can't be flushed down the toilet -- rather it needs to be thrown into a bid beside the loo. Getting to the gritty, most grossly physical aspects of humanity, through humiliation and attempt to crush dignity, is how Israel maintains its racist policies.
In the meantime, and for this end, rape survivors and those fighting sexual abuse are having their plight made a mockery of as the meaning of the truly horrendous and inhumane act of rape becomes diluted. Real rape victims are afraid to speak out, often for fear of being accused of crying wolf. Real rape victims do not get attention from police and from the justice system. But when racism is involved, and the Israeli government is trying to prove a point, then regretful sex leads to a conviction. Now a man will spend a year and a half in prison to make some unnamed woman in Israel feel innocent and pure again.