About 150 people protested in Tel Aviv Monday over the decision by prosecutors not to charge with rape a 21-year-old man who admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in a state-run coronavirus facility for at-risk youths.
Demonstrators outside the offices of the Tel Aviv District Prosecution called out, “No is no! What part of ‘no’ didn’t you understand?” and carried placards reading “Enough victim-blaming” and “I believe you.”
The mother of the girl, who has not been identified, attended the protest.
The girl told detectives that Yarin Sherf had raped her, but prosecutors filed the lesser charge of consensual prohibited relations against him, among other offenses including assault and battery.
In explaining their decision, prosecutors cited questions about the girl’s consent and Sherf’s claim that he thought she was 14, the age of consent in Israel. On Friday prosecutors said they would reexamine the charges in light of protests.
Lihi Farhi, 18, of Kulan, a feminist nonprofit that organized the demonstration with the Israel Women’s Network, said their aim was to show support for the girl and cause the prosecution to change the charge to rape. “A 13-year-old girl cannot give consent, especially if she’s being choked and threatened,” Farhi said.
A few men drove up in a car carrying a sign reading “Yarin Sherf is innocent.” They said they were “demonstrating for men’s rights.” A few protesters surrounded the car, shouting “Shame on you.”
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More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for more serious charges against Sherf. The petition was organized by a group calling itself Slut Youth, a youth group affiliated with Kulan.
“What drove me crazy was the double standard – we’re not old enough to vote, to drive or to drink alcohol but when it comes to sexual relations, we have legal responsibility and we can give consent,” Farhi said.
Israel Women’s Network Director Dana Meitav said, “It’s sad that teenagers are the ones who must educate the prosecution.”