Several years ago India made news in a most unfortunate way. A woman and a man were assaulted by a gang of assailants on a bus. Both were beaten. The woman was raped and later died from her injuries. The rape of the women spawned global concern about sexual violence against women in India. The Indian government, in an effort to address the outrage, decided to update it sexual violence statutes. The government intended to remove the word ‘rape’ and replace it with ‘sexual assault’. The new legislation also proposed to include both sexes as potential victims and perpetrators.
However, the latter caused outrage among feminist and women’s groups who considered it ridiculous allow women to be charged with rape. The women’s groups successfully petitioned the government to change the wording of the proposed law, making it impossible to charge women with rape (although women can still be charged with sexual violence). This was not limited to adults. In the previous years women’s group also opposed a law that would allow women to be charged with rape against children. This too was successfully opposed and altered at feminist and women’s groups’ behest.
Now it appears Israeli women’s groups are doing the same thing:
The Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday decided to postpone a vote on second and third reading of a bill to add the crime of rape by a woman to the statute book after women’s organizations warned that it would lead to a situation where women would be afraid to charge men with rape.
According to the proposal, an amendment to the Penal Law, a woman who causes or makes it possible for a person to insert his (or her) bodily organ or an object into her sexual organ will be charged with rape, forbidden intercourse by consent, sodomy or sex offenses within the family, depending on the circumstances of the act.
The law applies to women who perform the above on adult men and women, as well as on minors of either sex. […] The Knesset passed the bill according to the wording demanded by the government in first reading and sent it back to the Knesset Law Committee to prepare it for second and final readings. But at Tuesday’s discussion, the legislation hit a minefield when representatives of women’s organizations unanimously opposed it.
According to attorney Ruth Eldar of the Noga Center of the Ono Academic College, men will take advantage of the legislation to defend themselves against rape charges by accusing the women of raping them.
“The bill will cause women to stop complaining to police when they are raped by providing men with a formal alibi in court,” she warned. “The law treats men and women as being equal when it is obvious that in these matters, the men are the stronger ones.”
This was the same argument used by Indian feminists and women’s rights activists and, much like that case, those arguing it in Israel provide zero evidence to support the claim. The current problem is simple: the law presently excludes females as potential rapists. Two members filed to change the law so that it would allow women to be indicted for raping minors. The Justice Ministry decided that the law should include acts against adults as well, and insisted for the changes.
This is a reasonable position. Even if one assumes that women rarely commit sex offenses, it makes no sense to have laws that prevent one from charging women who do commit such crimes. At present, that is what the law does. According to the article, while there is language within the existing law that allows women to be charged, it has not been applied to women. The alteration of the law likely will not change that, although it will make it clear that the law does indeed apply to women as well as men.
This really should not pose a problem for anyone, yet Eldar seems to think otherwise. Eldar argued that women should only face charges if:
they encourage minors or helpless people to insert a bodily organ or object into their bodies.
That would apparently mean that adult men and women cannot be considered helpless when a woman forces them to insert something into her body without their permission. The very definition that the government uses — “makes it possible for a person to insert his (or her) bodily organ or an object into her sexual organ will be charged with rape, forbidden intercourse by consent, sodomy or sex offenses within the family, depending on the circumstances of the act” — implies that the person did not consent. By that logic, the person is helpless.
Eldar’s argument hinges on the notion of the counter-charge, the idea that if woman claims rape the man could claim she raped him:
“What will happen now is that every time a woman files a criminal complaint against a man for rape, he will countercharge that the woman caused him to penetrate her body, that he did it without wanting to,” she said. “He will then make a counter complaint, so that there will be two files in court, his against hers. This will block women, silence them and prevent them from going to the police.”
How will this block or silence women? Nothing stops them from filing the complaint. The police would investigate both complaints and file charges for the one that is supported by evidence. More so, most people do not believe women can rape men, so even if a male rapist decided to try this out, it is unlikely to succeed. It is more likely that a female rapist would claim she was raped by her victim if the victim were male because that is something that people would actually believe.
I searched for an example of a man claiming an accuser raped him and could not find any examples of this tactic succeeding. Perhaps my readers can search and see if they find something different. I cannot fathom how this would succeed without it being a situation in which the accused was a minor or mentally diminished. It seems unlikely that anyone would believe a man accused of rape claiming the accuser raped him.
Much like the situation in India, Eldar offered little more than a strawman argument and a red herring designed to do one thing: prevent women from being charged with sex crimes.
I think one can guess why. One of the most common narratives in anti-rape activism is the notion that sexual violence is the purview of men. It is something men do to women as an act of oppression and subjugation. The moment one entertains the idea that it is something women can do to men, that afore mentioned narrative falters. If rape is something that happens to men, then clearly is not specifically an act of oppression against women. If rape is something women can commit, then clearly is not specifically an act of subjugation by men. It would simply be a typical human behavior, one of the many abhorrent things we do to each other.
Yet that is not as sexy and politically useful as blaming men for rape. So it would be better to silence the issue, hide from view, and make it next to impossible to ever hold women accountable for their actions. Then it can still be a tool for smashing strawmen and scapegoats and peddling conspiracy theories. No need to pay any mind to reality when a fantasy will suffice.
The vote for the change to the law was postponed, and the Justice Ministry is apparently willing to consider dropping the inclusion of rape against adults by women. I suspect that this situation will end like the one in India, with women’s groups getting their way and successfully blocking the inclusion of women as potential rapists. I also suspect that when successful, women’s groups will petition for the removal of charging women with rape against minors as well. That is, unfortunately, the typical feminist position.