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A 37-year-old man convicted of raping two of his nieces for 11 years was ordered to pay them NIS 2 million in compensation.

The Haifa District Court ruled in favor of the nieces yesterday, who sued for damages shortly after the man was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2007.

According to the original verdict, the man started raping the girls when he was 15 and they were 6 and 8 years old, respectively.

He continued to assault them for 11 years.

According to the charges, the man would lock one his nieces individually in his room and rape and sexually assault them during visits to their grandfather's house, where he lived.

In his ruling yesterday, Judge Ron Sokol wrote, "Everyone agrees that sexual offenses against underage girls over the course of several years severely damage the victims' basic right to dignity, and physical and emotional protection. A minor subject to a sexual assault, all the more so sexual assault that repeats for several years, will carry the damage to her body and her soul for the rest of her life. The memories will never let her go."

The judge also stressed that this particular lawsuit was unique in that no new debate was necessary over the facts underlying the original conviction.

Court sources noted there has been a sharp rise in lawsuits filed by sexual assault victims in recent years, and said this was due to a growing awareness by victims that they could receive significant financial compensation for the psychological and future harm.