Incidents Go Unreported

According to Dr. Talia Etgar, of Elem, the association for youth at-risk, there is no data on the scale of sex offenses among ultra-Orthodox minors, due to the defensive nature of the community. Incidents are not reported to the welfare services or the police, and the rabbis tend to "settle matters" within the community. The existing data is old: in 1999, the Youth Probation office did nine evaluations for adolescents who committed sexual assaults and in 2000, there were 20 evaluations.

The attackers, aged 12-18, are likely to strike anywhere: in a public park, educational institutions, dormitories, mikvehs (ritual baths) and of course, in homes. Because of separation of boys and girls in ultra-Orthodox society, many attacks are against victims of the same sex. In yeshivas, there are students in a range of ages. A 15-year-old boy next to a 28-year-old who has not yet found a spouse, notes Dr. Amram Gafni, a participant in the course. Even though acts of a homosexual nature are prohibited by the Torah, he says, for years such offenses were overlooked and in some cases were seen as youthful pranks. Gafni describes this atmosphere as "the greenhouse effect on pedophiles." (T.R.)