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I don’ t know whether readers remember reading a month or two ago about a case in Israel where an Arab man was convicted of “rape by deception” of a Jewish woman. The crux of the case was that she would not have slept with him if she had realised he was an Arab. There was lots of chin scratching and discussion at the time, over whether it constituted rape or not or whether she was basically just racist.

The full facts weren’t reported at the time because the court testimony was classified. However, according to this site, it’s recently been declassified, and it turns out to be a far more complicated case than met the eye.

In a nutshell, the victim was in her 20s, and a longstanding victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father as well having worked as a prostitute and been addicted to drugs. None of which stopped the sexual abuse from her father. At the time of the rape she was living in a women’s shelter having finally escaped him.

According to her testimony, the convicted man dragged her into a hallway, stripped her, and forcibly raped her, leaving her half naked and bleeding when an ambulance arrived. She was in the process of prosecuting this when, essentially, the prosecution threatened to try to tear her credibility to strips by painting her as an ‘unreliable witness’. This was based on her history of allegations of sexual abuse, her history of working as a prostitute, and some inconsistencies in her testimony (during which she was visibly distressed). This was their tactic in a plea-bargain to get the charge of rape dropped to the lesser charge of ‘rape by deception’. Which is an awful lot different to the way the story was originally painted.

So what seemed at first glance to be a disproportionate punishment (18 months imprisonment) actually reflected something quite different. Nevertheless it was on record that he was originally charged with rape without consent and later took a plea bargain to reduce the charge to rape by deception, which didn’t seem to be much commented upon. Perhaps an example of the media being only too keen to pick up on stories of women supposedly ‘crying rape’ despite the rarity with which they happen (most evidence concludes false reporting rate for rape is pretty similar to the rate for other crimes such as burglary). We still don’t know the full details of the case, not having been at the trial, but it’s obvious that it’s an awful lot more complicated than the way it’s been reported to date.