Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What's more important? Survivors of Sexual Abuse or Torah Scrolls?


Case of Yehezkiel Greenbaum

Case of Yehezkiel Greenbaum 
Yehezkiel Greenbaum - Convicted Sex Offender
Gabbi - Jerusalem, Israel

This is a case of clergy sexual abuse.  Yehezkiel Greenbaum was convicted of  sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy who was intellectually challenged

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Table of Contents
 

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2012
  1.  

    עבריין מין שברח מהארץ זכה ל"הסדר מקל" (10/28/2012

  2. Synagogue Gabbai Who Repeatedly Raped A 14-Year-Old Developmentally Disabled Boy Gets Light Sentence – Even Though He Fled The Country To Avoid Prosecution (10/28/2012)
 
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עבריין מין שברח מהארץ זכה ל"הסדר מקל"

גבאי בית כנסת בירושלים ברח מהארץ לאחר שכבר הודה בביצוע שלושה מעשי סדום בבן 14. כששב לישראל, חזר בו וכתב האישום המתוקן מחק עבירה אחת ושינה אחרת. הוא נידון ל-30 חודשי מאסר
פורסם: 28.10.12, 22:32
30 חודשי מאסר נגזרו היום (א') בבית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים על יחזקאל גרינבאום, גבאי בית כנסת בן 41 שהודה והורשע במסגרת הסדר טיעון בעבירות של מעשה סדום ושני מעשים מגונים בבן 14 שסובל מאינטליגנציה שכלית נמוכה ומהפרעת אישיות כפייתית-חרדתית. העונש - החמור ביותר ברף שהוצע במסגרת ההסדר - עשוי היה להיות חמור יותר אם גרינבאום לא היה בורח מהארץ לפני כשנתיים.

בחירות בארה"ב 2012 - לכל הכתבות של CNN ו-ynet בעמוד מיוחד

במסגרת הסדר טיעון קודם שעליו חתם גרינבאום ב-2010 עם פרקליטות מחוז ירושלים, הוא הודה והורשע בביצוע שלושה מעשי סדום באותה פרשה. סמוך לחתימת ההסכם ברח גרינבאום לחו"ל, וכששב, חודשו ההליכים נגדו. אך הוא חזר בו מהודאתו, ובעקבות כך בוטלה הכרעת הדין הראשונה.

הנער, שאותו הכיר גרינבאום במסגרתו עבודתו, הוזמן שוב להעיד, והצדדים הגיעו להסדר הנוכחי. במסגרתו נמחקה עבירה אחת של מעשה סדום בקטין, ועבירת מעשה סדום אחרת הומרה במעשה מגונה. "ההסדר הנוכחי מקל לאין שיעור מן ההסדר המקורי", אמרו בגזר הדין השופטים צבי סגל, משה יועד הכהן ובן-ציון גרינברגר.


"טרף קל"

על פי כתב האישום המתוקן, בין גרינבאום ובין הקטין נקשרו קשרי חברות בתקופה שבין חודש יוני לאוגוסט 2007. גרינבאום היה מודע למצבו השכלי והרגשי של הקטין, אך למרות זאת הסיע אותו פעמיים במכוניתו - לאזור יער רמות בירושלים ולחניון הסמוך לביתו, ושם ביצע בו מעשים מגונים. במקרה החמור ביותר בכתב האישום, שאירע במהלך אוגוסט 2007, תקף גרינבאום את הנער בחדר בקומה השנייה של בית הכנסת.

על פי השופטים, "פער הגילים ויחסי הקרבה בין הנאשם לבין המתלונן, כמו גם מצבו הרגשי והקוגניטיבי, הפכו את המתלונן ל'טרף קל' מבחינת הנאשם והקשו עליו להתנגד למעשים שבוצעו בו".



למרות טענות ההגנה כי יש להקל בעונש משום שעל פי הסדר הטיעון המעשים לא נעשו בכפייה, ציינו השופטים כי "נוכח בעיותיו הקוגניטיביות והרגשיות המשמעותיות, להן היה הנאשם מודע, קשה עד בלתי אפשרי לתפוס את הסכמתו לביצוע המעשים, ככל שהייתה, בבחינת הסכמה מדעת, לא כל שכן עת הנאשם מבוגר מהמתלונן בשנים רבות והאחרון ראה בו את מיטיבו ואיש חסדו".

בנוסף, ציינו לחומרה את הישנות המקרים, שבוצעו תוך תכנון מוקדם, ואת הפגיעה הקשה שהסבו מעשי גרינבאום לקטין, שהיה זקוק 


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Synagogue Gabbai Who Repeatedly Raped A 14-Year-Old Developmentally Disabled Boy Gets Light Sentence – Even Though He Fled The Country To Avoid Prosecution
By Shymra Rosenberg
Failed Messiah - October 28, 2012
 
In another example of Israel's ethically challenged legal system, a synagogue gabbai who fled prosecution for the repeated rapes of a developmentally disabled child gets a short prison sentence on his return to Israel.

Yehezkiel Greenbaum, a 41-year-old Jerusalem synagogue gabbai, was convicted in a plea bargain today to charges of sodomy and indecent assault against a 14 -year-old boy with low mental function and personality disorders, Ynet's Hebrew website reported.

Greenbaum fled the country in 2010 just before he was to slated to sign the agreement. When he recently returned to Israel, he was able to get some of the related charges dropped or altered, which reduced his sentence.

But Greenbaum also tried to claim that he had not forced the boys, a claim the judges rejected because of the boys' mental states.

"The age gap and the close relations between the defendant and the complainant, as well as cognitive and emotional state [of the complainant], made the complainant easy prey for the defendant," the judges said.

Greenbaum was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

The victim was so traumatized by the ongoing sexual abuse that he needed psychiatric hospitalization.
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FAIR USE NOTICE

Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. 
 
We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 
 
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtm . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where's the news coverage about those who called the NYC underground tunnels home?

Does anyone know about all the homeless kids that live in the underground tunnels in NY? You know, the ones they don't admit to..the ones they kind of turn a blind eye to? Where are they? What about all the other homeless people in these affected areas? Where's the news reports about these folks?

Remember many of these folks come from abusive homes and are survivors of sexual abuse/assault. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

CALL TO ACTION: Tell Mark Appel to Stop Promoting Shlomo Carlebach


CALL TO ACTION: Tell Mark Appel to Stop Promoting 
Sexual Predator - Shlomo Carlebach


Mark Appel, Rabbi Yosef Blau andRabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
All over the world there will be celebrations for a known sexual predator by the name of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. To learn of these gatherings all you need to do is google Carlebach's name. 

For the last several years Mark Meyer Appel has been calling himself a "Rape Victim Advocate" in the orthodox Jewish community. He also created his own organization called "Voice of Justice" so that he could offer financial support to many survivors who are struggling.

Over the years he has done some good, yet more recently there have been numerous complaints, due to his connections to many problematic individuals who have been covering up sex crimes for decades, including an individual connected to the Brooklyn's District Attorney's office.  

After learning of Mark Appel's gathering to celebrate the life of a known sexual predator, The Awareness Center has no option but to speak out against Mr. Appel. 

Those of us at The Awareness Center have had numerous conversations with Mr. Appel regarding disbelief that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, was molesting both adult women and teenage girls for around forty years.  Mark was also made aware that back in 1959 Rabbi Moshe Feinstein made a rabbinic decree banning Shlomo Carlebach's music due to his sexually abusive behavior towards teenage girls and adult women.  

It appears that Mark Appel cares nothing about the female survivors of Shlomo Carlebach.  Today on Facebook he created three public events (which has since been made private), along with Abe Rice and Betzalel Alexander Ness, to celebrate and honor Shlomo Carlebach's Yahrizeit (anniversary of his death).  

No legitimate rape counselor would create a party to celebrate, honor and promote one of the most notorous sexual predator in Jewish history.   If you are outraged at Mark Appel's plans let him know. 

By Mark Appel honoring the memory of Shlomo Carlebach in such a public way is basically helping to recreate history and promoting this sex offender as a saint.

Please contact Mark Appel and let him know how you feel about him promoting a known sexual predator in this way. 

CONTACT:
      Mark Appel
      305-725-5758
      MARKMAPPEL@AOL.COM 

Also contact:
     Rabbi Kenneth Brander - Rabbi Emeritus
     Boca Raton Synagogue (where part of the Carlebach events are talking place)
     Office: 561-394-0394
     Fax: (561) 394-0180
     brander@yu.edu

For more information on the case of Shlomo Carlebach CLICK HERE
Mark Appel Promoting Shlomo Carlebach - Sexual Predator


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Text of Flyer

Reb Shlomo Carlebach's zt"l
18th Yahretzeit Celebration

Wed., Oct. 31st, 16 Ram Cheshvan, 8 pm
at the home of R' Mark Meyer Appel
9451 East Broadview Drive
Bay Harbor Isles, FL  33154

Kumzitz with Betzalel Ness and Rabbi Sammy Intrator
Drings, Nosh and Ruach | Bring your musical instruments

Friday Night R' Shlomo Minyan
at the home of R' Mark Meyer Appel
Nov. 2nd, Mincha 6:20 pm
followed by a Shabbos meal
Kindly RSVP carlebachmiami@gmail.com

Motzai Shabbos, Sat. Nov. 3rd, 8 pm
Boca Raton Sny. in the Sephardic Beit Midrash
7900 North Montoya Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33433
Chassidic Learning and Holy Singing

For info call or text: (305) 725-5784

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Murder of Zipora Yagodajev

Case of Raymond Vargas and Laura Sudol
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

This page is dedicated to the memory of Zipora Yagodajev who was raped and murdered.

Zipora Yagodajev was raped after Raymond Vargas  strangled to death on December 16, 1991.  He then charred body which was found under the Williamsburg Bridge.  Zipora had left her Williamsburg home on the morning of December 16, 1990 to buy candy for a Hanukkah party.  Her charred body was found the next morning. 

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Table of Contents


1990
  1. Girl, 15, Found Strangled Under the Williamsburg Bridge  (12/18/1990)
  2. Hasidim Try to Explain Girl's Killing  (12/19/1990)

 1991
  1. Suspect Seized in Strangling of a Girl, 15  (02/18/1991)
  2. Parolee Confessed to Killing Of Girl, 15, Prosecutor Says   (02/19/1991)

1992
  1. Brooklyn Man Convicted in Strangling of Girl, 15    (03/14/1992)

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Girl, 15, Found Strangled Under the Williamsburg Bridge
New York Times - December 18, 1990



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Hasidim Try to Explain Girl's Killing
New York Times - December 19, 1990


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Suspect Seized in Strangling of a Girl, 15 
New York Times - February 18, 1991



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Parolee Confessed to Killing Of Girl, 15, Prosecutor Says
New York Times - February 19, 1991










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Brooklyn Man Convicted in Strangling of Girl, 15
New York Times - March 14, 1992


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FAIR USE NOTICE
Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. 
 
We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 
 
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

1913: Views regarding impotency, sterility, sexual abuse and self-abuse

Back in 1913 the views about impotency and sterility were quiet interesting.  The belief back then was it was much better for those who were "idiots, criminally and hopelessly insane, disabled, sexual perverts, epileptic" along with a slew of others to be sterile.

The belief was that impotency and sterility were cause from "sowing your wild oats", injuries to reproductive organs caused "by falling astride on fences, horseback riding", sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholism, and various forms of self-abuse. 



Monday, October 22, 2012

Immunity for reporting child abuse in Illinois

As of July 1, 1975 those who report suspected cases of child abuse and or neglect would be given legal immunity.  This included cases of sexual abuse and "mental injury".  The law also changed the age limit for victims the from age of 16 to 18.


Female delinquents have rougher way to go

Considering the vast majority of those who were categorized as "female juvenile delinquents" back in the 1970s were also survivors of child abuse, I thought this article was extremely interesting.  It saddens me a great deal that they were punished for promiscuity, but cause what we know today is that promiscuity is often symptomology of a child who was sexually abuse.  It's also appalling that when a girl was arrested that it was common place to give her a gynecological exam.

This article was published in the Chicago Defender back in 1975.


Yakov Vershubsky - Attempts at Cyberbullying

For years various individuals have set their minds on cyberbullying, harassing and cyberstalking Vicki Polin, who is the founder and director of The Awareness Center.  The attacks began when The Awareness Center was assisting survivors of a few alleged, confessed and convicted sexual predators.  The attacks against Ms. Polin was created as an attempt to discredit her and to create a distraction from the real issues, which involved a long history within various Jewish communities of covering-up sex crimes, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.  It's obvious that Yakov Vershubsky among others, are unaware of the history of the attacks, yet choose to continue with the discreditation of one of the pioneers in the Jewish anti-rape movement.

The cases in which started the cyber-bullying attempts against Vicki Polin include: 
  1. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
  2. Rabbi Marc Gafni
  3. Rabbi David E. Lipman
  4. Rabbi Mordecai Tendler 
  5. Rabbi Hershy Worch
Cyberbully - Yakov Vershubsky
On an article written by Vicki Polin regarind cult like kiruv groups, Yakov Vershubsky posted comments in hopes of discrediting and bullying Ms. Polin into silence.


Cyber-bullying, harassment, stalking and all forms of hate is illegal in this country and those who perpetrate these types of crimes will be reported.

According to Yakov Vershubsky's facebook page, he currently resides in Monsey, NY and is a world traveler.  He speaks Russina, Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic and Українська.

As you can see from Yakov Vershubsky's photograph, he carries a gun.


Yakov Vershubsky's Attempts at Cyberbullying
 
___________________________________________________________________________________ FAIR USE NOTICE Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Easy Way to Pain

The Easy Way to Pain
By Michael J. Salamon
Times of Israel - October 22, 2012

It seems that we are always looking for an easy way out. We all want easy, simple, straight forward answers to all of our questions, answers  that provide us with an effortless way to deal with the problems we encounter in our daily lives. We expect to go to an authority and present our conundrum and within seconds get the magic bullet response that will immediately resolve the matter. This is precisely the reason why doctors give antibiotics to patients even when they know that the patients symptoms are caused by a virus and the antibiotic is not likely to help. But, as a potent type of placebo, and only because we want to believe it, the antibiotic does help to ease the patient who seeks the easy answer.

Doctors have been faulted for allowing this to continue but they are often pressured into compliance by the realities of the patients they treat.  It is the silver bullet and that is what people want. Students want to know exactly what will be on the test so that all they have to study is that limited topic to succeed. There is only limited interest in learning and understanding for its own sake. So teachers have been put into the position of teaching only for the test and as a result scores in overall knowledge and achievement have been declining. No matter, this is what is demanded of both students and teachers so both groups are compelled to comply. Similarly, we seek answers for deep metaphysical and religious issues from our halachic leaders with the same expectation of a simple answer. But, even worse, we also seek answers to issues they are not prepared to deal with. Unfortunately, they too are often eager to comply with an easy response.

This is not a question of who is at fault, we all are. It is more an issue of buying into a simple mindset which says that “all we want is to be told what to do.” But there are severe consequences with this approach. In medicine the consequence is that we are seeing the emergence of the super bug, the germ that will no longer be curbed by any antibiotics now available to us. In education, according to many, we are seeing the demise of creative thinking and the expansion of a society of students eager to learn little and play a lot on the newest technology. In religion we are seeing the rise of the rigid thinker who cannot entertain two ideas simultaneously out of a misdirected fear that their spirituality will be compromised rather then seeing the possibility of it being enhanced.

The results of a recently released unpublished study which reportedly indicates that 50% of students from Daati Leumi, or modern orthodox, families drop out of religious observance (or is it complete belief that they drop out of – hard to know because the study is not available for review) is being touted as proof by several rabbis that the modern orthodox lifestyle is a failure. They are using this as proof that haredism is the only way toward orthodox spirituality. This is yet another simplistic reaction to an issue that is complex and may have more to do with how students perceive the rigid training they from these very same rabbis. Furthermore, it may not even be true – you cannot evaluate the accuracy or validity of a study that is not published. Meanwhile, the same rabbis overlook published studies with results that can be verified, if not necessarily replicated, that anxiety disorders, are higher in haredi communities, substance abuse rates are similar in haredi and daati leumi communities and the dirty little secret that is never discussed is that drop out rates for religious observance may be highest in the most restrictive religious communities according to at least one study. Some of the studies suggest that many may maintain the external dress and appearances of the haredi world but personally do not keep the religious obligations of their belief system.

In a similar vein by indicating to their followers that they must first get approval from their leaders before filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities they still seek easy answers to dealing with such horrific problems as childhood sexual abuse. In this case, the easy answer is to deny and sweep it under the rug. It is absolutely true that there is a new social approach which states that abusers should be reported but it comes with the caveat that an expert rabbi should still be first consulted. The law states otherwise. The law requires the reporting of any reasonable suspicion. This is a requirement of the law for good reason. Only trained forensic specialists, usually only those in police or investigative forensics work, have the knowledge and experience to properly determine the veracity of a report of abuse, not a rabbi. There is a good deal of replicated research to support this but the knowledge base is not reviewed, again we allow ourselves to take the easy way out. By telling the rabbi we assume we are protected. But, this way is the easy way again and we are not only not protected we may be culpable in causing more abuse. Easy answers, only create more conflicts and pain.

Are Some Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Kiruv Organizations Feeder Groups For Cults?

By Vicki Polin
The Examiner - October 22, 2012

Are some kiruv organizations cult connected?
The majority of Shabbatons offered by non-cult like groups are amazing experiences. Over the years I’ve been to a few that were both cult and non-cult like. Going to a legitimate shabbaton is like going to a “spa for your soul”. A shabbaton is a weekend retreat over the Jewish sabbath, created for those who are wishing to learn more about Torah based Judaism.

I’ll admit that during cult like shabbatons I was aware of some of the manipulative techniques that were being utilized, yet I found myself dismissing my thoughts and feelings about what was being said and done. I was aware that these cult-like groups were using shabbos as a way to lure in secular Jews for their own personal gain. The truth is there’s a lot of money to be made off of someone becoming orthodox. Between the cost of providing the needed education, the purchases to create a kosher home and maintaining it, the purchase of religious artifacts, and –– a lot of costs are involved. As well, if someone is a devotee, they will show their thanks by making donations to the cult-like institution for years to come.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Problem with the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault

The Problem with the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault
By Vivien Resofsky
Galus Australia - October 19, 2012

I have been attempting to engage The Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (The Taskforce) since 2006, both directly and in the pages of The Australian Jewish News because I am deeply worried by their approach – particularly by their assertion that children can and should be taught to protect themselves against adult predators. The truth is, they can’t.

I am so concerned that I have also submitted complaints to the JCCV, Jewish Care and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria about what I believe is The Taskforce’s dangerously misguided approach to a very complex issue; however, nothing has changed.

The best evidence indicates that we cannot leave children to protect themselves; however, The Taskforce refuses to acknowledge this. The Protecting our Vulnerable Children Inquiry Report (Feb 2012), weighed up all the worldwide research and evidence about the effectiveness of teaching children personal safety to prevent abuse. It accepted Finkelhor (2009 ),Smallbone et al. (2008) “There is little convincing evidence for the effectiveness of these programs for preventing sexual abuse.”

Ms Weiner, who has no degree or equivalent in any field related to child protection does not agree with the research. She states that, “Giving a child the tools to say NO denies the perpetrator the opportunity to abuse.”

Why would Ms Weiner advocate a position that goes against the best evidence? Unfortunately, Ms Weiner’s position is echoed by Mrs Balfour, head of The Early Learning Centre at Beth Rivkah, who believes The Taskforce – that schools do not need to educate parents, because children under the age of five can protect themselves!

Alongside Debbie Weiner, Taskforce board member, Sheiny New, also speaks publicly on behalf of the group and about child abuse. Ms New has spoken and written extensively about this issue, however, like Ms Weiner, she has no degree or equivalent in the area.

This information, however, is not available on The Taskforce website. In fact, much information about who comprises the Taskforce and their work with children is absent from their website. There is a serious lack of transparency that characterises the group. It is usual practice for a group that purports to protect children to articulate this and to clearly state it as part of their vision; however, the word, “child,” is hardly mentioned on The Taskforce site.

While The Taskforce has existed for 17 years, it only first acknowledged the issue of child abuse  in 2006. It then moved to gain a monopoly on the protection of our children despite its lack of experience and the lack of qualifications of Taskforce volunteers.

In 2006, The Taskforce emailed Di Hirsh of the NCJW, strongly requesting that Ms Hirsh and her organisation withdraw their support from a community child protection awareness and education campaign. The Taskforce’s reasoning for this demand was that they wanted to present an efficient and unified communal response to such a sensitive subject in The Taskforce’s forthcoming forum.
In doing this, The Taskforce successfully removed support for a campaign that included child welfare professionals so that a group of volunteers could be the sole providers of communal education on child abuse.

It is important to remember that The Taskforce is a voluntary organisation whose members are not professionals in the area of child protection; however, The Taskforce have positioned themselves as the community’s authority on the matter.

Because they have worked for 17 years to raise awareness of family violence, they believe that qualifies them to advise on child abuse. Not only is this a logical problem, it also requires a real leap of faith because The Taskforce has only spoken out against child abuse in the last 6 years.

The Taskforce personnel also base their credibility on the training they receive from experts. Many of these experts are highly respected in their fields; however, educational seminars that last for a couple of hours, or at most, a couple of days, can not qualify people to do the work of trained professionals. The Taskforce should not therefore position itself as able to give advice on a par with professional advice.

The Taskforce’s lack of professional personnel leads it to offer poor advice (such as the idea that children can protect themselves). Ms New’s public statement that with the right treatment, victims of child sexual abuse will be, “just fine,” goes against research that demonstrates that only 1 in 10 cases of abuse is even reported. Many abused children cannot get help at all, because their abuse is unknown. Educating parents to spot signs of abuse can address this issue. This is not, however, what The Taskforce is doing.

This makes Ms Weiner’s claim that The Taskforce is, “tackling abuse head on,” difficult to believe. Ms Weiner’s and The Taskforce’s refusal to support parent-directed education is evidence that best practice is not in place. Parents need guidance to help them learn how to assess whether or not good child protection procedures are in place in schools and other institutions. They need to know what to look for. For example, does the organization train staff about child sexual abuse? Does the organization have a code of conduct for adults working with children? Does it outline clear expectations about boundaries between staff and children? How is staff misconduct handled?

It is difficult to understand why The Taskforce relies on extremely out of date ideas of child self protection. We used to think programs that teach children to identify and refuse inappropriate touch would prevent child sexual abuse. Personal safety programs for children have been in existence for over 25 years but experts now advise that children can’t fend off would-be abusers by themselves.

The Protecting our Vulnerable Inquiry 2012, weighed up all the worldwide research and evidence about the effectiveness of teaching children personal safety to prevent abuse. It agreed with Finkelhor 2009 and Smallbone et al. 2008: “There is little convincing evidence for the effectiveness of these programs for preventing sexual abuse.” (The Protecting our Vulnerable Children’s Inquiry Report 2012)
Telling parents that something will prevent abuse when it clearly will not puts children at unacceptable risk. Sexual abuse is most commonly a gradual process of desensitization, further complicated by the power imbalance between the victim and perpetrator. Would-be abusers use a grooming process to gain trust and acceptance.

Grooming can be described as a psychological process that breaks down a child’s resistance by using techniques such as gift giving, engaging the child in peer like activities, desensitizing the child to touch, isolating the child and then making the child feel responsible for the abuse. Grooming can take place over months or longer. Those who would offend try to get themselves into a situation where they are alone with a child who trusts them. The abused child is then caught in a web of confusion, guilt, deceit and mistrust and a child commonly feels overwhelmed and powerless to stop the abuse.

Ms New, however, advises that parents should educate themselves and then educate their children. The Child Protection Inquiry, however, does not expect parents to educate themselves. It recommends that efforts should focus on raising public awareness of child sexual abuse and providing parents of all school-aged children with education.

Parents need to become aware and even trained in the defence of their children. They can create a barrier between those who would abuse and their children. They need to discuss matters with their children in language that is not threatening and gives the child age-appropriate references. Parents can vet situations when they leave their children in the care of others and ensure that stringent screening, monitoring, training and reporting policies are in place. They need to know the steps they can take when they suspect something is not right. Schools should continue to teach children about personal safety, but the responsibility for protecting children should be placed on adults.

Finally, we must ask ourselves if it is appropriate for a single group to address matters of abuse in both the Ultra Orthodox and less religious communities. The differences in attitudes, values, and culture are enormous between the extremely religious and the less religious sub-groups in our community. Can and should a single group be charged with such a broad agenda?

According to Ms New there are “Jewish” specific factors that impact on why victims of child sexual abuse don’t report. When she refers to “Jewish” factors, are these applicable across the board or only to the Ultra-Orthodox community?

When The Taskforce makes statements like, “We consider ourselves to be a light unto other nations, and if we start talking about violence and abuse in what we consider a perfect Jewish family that light will be dimmed just a little bit and she (the victim) did not want to be the cause of more anti-Semitism…”

or “Living in a host country we would prefer not to create anti Semitism.” or (referring to the Shidduch system)“…The first question asked is: “Is it a nice family?” sexual assault does not a nice family make. Don’t be judgemental. If your brother had to choose between two equally lovely girls but one had been raped 6 months ago which would you choose?”


Do any of these statements apply to non-religious Jews who are the vast majority in the community?
Why then have the JCCV and Jewish Care welcomed The Taskforce’s attempt to be the sole organisation dealing with abuse in the community? Many non-religious Jews are horrified by such attitudes and might wonder why The Taskforce is not doing more to combat them. Meanwhile Ms New asks us not to be judgmental of that belief system. Surely such a group cannot represent our entire community.

***
Vivien Resofsky is a social worker whose specialist training (in both Australia and the USA) underpins her extensive practical professional experience in areas relating to child protection and domestic violence. She has worked with children and families at Jewish Care, The Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service and DHS Child Protection and is an accredited trainer of several programs.


Her writing has appeared in numerous publications; for the Australian government; and for the wider media, including The Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, and The AJN. Vivien is also the author of the highly regarded Wesley World series of books which are parent/child guides to personal safety.

Vivien’s work, which has focused primarily on child abuse in the past six years, draws together research and evidence-based theory, practical experience and programmes with evaluated, evidence-based success.

***
The Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault has been contacted to offer them a right-of-reply. To read a previous article about The Taskforce written from their own point of view, please see Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Israel's Sexual Harassment Double-Standard

Israel's Sexual Harassment Double-Standard
The Atlantic - October 17, 2012


Supporters write notes on a banner of Israel's Tzipi Livni ahead of Israel's 2009 general elections.
The trouble with treating rape as a women's issue 
Supporters write notes on a banner of Israel's Tzipi Livni ahead of Israel's 2009 general elections.
As a prominent Israeli female politician, Tzipi Livni is no stranger to criticism. The strong-willed attorney turned politician has needed thick skin to become the most influential female leader in Israel of her generation. This year, Newsweek named the former Foreign Minister and head of the opposition one of the top 150 most fearless women in the world, the only Israeli on the list. Ever since resigning from the Knesset in May after losing her position as head of the Kadima Party earlier this year, pundits have speculated about her imminent return to politics.

But these days, Livni finds herself under criticism from an unexpected source: feminist groups in Israel, who have usually been big supporters of Livni. On October 5, several high-profile organizations championing women's issues, who have since identified themselves as the Israeli Women's Coalition, authored a joint statement condemning Livni for discussing creating a new political party with Hayim Ramon, a former Knesset member who in 2006 was convicted of indecent behavior while he was serving as Minister of Justice.

Should Livni really care more about sexual assault because she is a woman?

The joint statement issued on October 5 argued that "it is inconceivable that a convicted sex offender will be the main force behind Livni's return to politics." Ramon was convicted of molestation for forcing a female soldier to kiss him in 2006, earning him a $3,600 fine and 120 community service hours. Ramon resigned from his Knesset position in 2009, and remained as the council chairman of Kadima until May 2012.

These women's groups are right to condemn Livni for potentially collaborating with Ramon. Political leaders should be held to a high standard. With Israel's former President Moshe Katzav currently in jail after being convicted of rape, the Knesset needs to set a tone of zero tolerance for sexual assault and indecent behavior.

What is worrisome about these groups is their selective condemnation of Livni. Though some of the groups have long opposed Ramon's return to politics and his continued role in Kadima, their specific remarks against Livni were not joined by statements against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other leaders who have met with Ramon and contemplated joining a Ramon-backed party. To single her out for reproach sends a troubling message: It is more problematic for a woman than a man to consider working with a man who has committed sexual assault. Their selective condemnation seems to imply that Livni should care more about sexual assault because she is a woman.

Sexual assault is not a women's issue; framing it as one undermines the legitimate concern that all people, regardless of gender, should have when it comes to sexual harassment. The condemnation should be directed at any politician who is willing to overlook such crimes, and to any voter or leader who does not take those crimes as a signal that Ramon is unfit to lead.

With women serving in the army in combat roles, and the growing number of female Knesset members, Israel has made laudable strides towards gender equality. However, the steps forward must be coupled with a consistently unyielding demand for equality.

On September 27, a female member of the Karakal brigade killed a terrorist during a patrol on the Egyptian border. Her successes were made newsworthy because of her gender, instead of being due to her ability and training as a soldier. If Israel wants to make real strides towards gender equality, it needs stop to looking at its women as female first and foremost, but rather begin to recognize and judge them according to their position, and hold them to the same standards as men in similar positions.

Livni should not join forces with Ramon, but not because she is a woman.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rabbi: When religious freedom stops at the prison gate