With Katsav case, its time to start being compassionate to rape victims

After I was raped, I regretted not immediately reporting it to the police every day, every hour, every minute — and then I saw what happened to “A,” the woman who has accused Israeli President Moshe Katsav of rape, by the media and Katsav’s henchmen. It is worse to be physically raped by one man, but having your soul raped by 100 comes in a close second.

My situation was a little different. Since I was raped in the United States, different laws apply. But rape victims should report the rape immediately and go to the hospital within an hour of the assault.

If a victim delays reporting the rape, the police will believe she is a vindictive shrew only coming forward later for revenge. They cannot imagine that the real reason the rape victim did not come forward is that she is in a state of shock and cannot think clearly or make decisions.

In the hours after the rape, I did not want to believe that the rape had occurred at the hand of a man I had admired for so long. I kept asking myself, “How could one business meeting go so wrong?” I was embarrassed that I had been so stupid and gullible that I did not see the rape coming and was too ashamed to go to the police.

For that moment of hesitation, I have had to listen for a lifetime to prosecutors and judges telling me I was not raped. If you do not report it, it did not occur — even though everyone knows that the majority of rape victims do not report the assault.

For me, those people are no different than Holocaust deniers. They are denying my own personal holocaust. Please do not criticize me for using the word holocaust. Until you have been raped by someone you trust and admire, you cannot imagine the horror I endured.

This is especially galling in Israel where the prosecution and judiciary are filled to the rafters with women. But it seems that the women prosecutors and judges here leave their vaginas at the front door to their offices.

Even worse, these women that never seem to stop talking suddenly become deaf and mute when asked about feminist issues. One prosecutor told me, “I am just doing my job and following orders.” Wasn’t that the defense of the guards at Auschwitz?

One of the worst examples of the forgetful vagina syndrome was an official request from the United States government to the Israeli prosecution for the extradition of a convicted serial rapist. The request was denied by the international department of the Israeli prosecution for seven years because of a minor legal issue.

The rapist was a doctor who betrayed the trust of his patients and drugged them in order to rape them. The international department of the Israeli prosecution, then headed by a woman, refused to consider arresting him. Once a man became head of the department this grievous wrong was righted.

Why would the state of Israel want a convicted rapist loose on its streets free to rape again? I think there is a primal need for women to believe that educated and powerful men like the doctor and President Katsav are not rapists. Society has told women that these are the men we should be looking to marry and have children with. It is easier for a woman to deny that they are rapists than explore the possibility that she could be their next victim.

The female head of the Jerusalem Film Festival may have had a touch of forgetful vagina syndrome this year. She chose to honor convicted statutory rapist Roman Polanski for his lifetime achievement as a movie director.

Polanksi fled the United States before he was sentenced to prison for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. The warrant for his arrest is still active, according to an official in the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.

In Israel, the laws on the books to protect women are relatively strong. A rape victim can report the rape when she is emotionally ready and sexual harassment is criminalized.

But sadly, the rape laws on the books in Israel are not worth the paper they are printed on. Women’s groups need to work on better enforcement of the existing laws.

The majority of civilized countries have rape shield laws that protect the identity of victiims. Still, that did not stop Katsav’s lawyer, Zion Amir, from shouting the identity of “A” on live Israeli television. But what prevented the Justice Ministry from putting him in jail for violating this law? The Israeli prosecution would have shown that they care about the women of Israel even if they had only put him in jail for one day.

It disgusts me that the media has mentioned “A’s” work history. What does her work history have to do with the fact that Katsav allegedly abused his power and raped her?

Like animals in the jungle, powerful rapists know how to pick their prey. They pick the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

The Knesset should start impeachment proceedings right away. That would be a powerful message to Knesset members’ daughters, wives and nieces that the government is trying to make the world a safer place for them.

Laura Goldman worked on Wall Street for many years. She currently lives in Tel Aviv.