JERUSALEM, Feb. 12 (JTA) – The broadcast in Israel of footage of a beating and rape is sparking debate over what constitutes pornography and how to address the issue of sexual assault.
The images appeared as part of a report on the rape of a Haifa woman aired last week on Israel Television’s Channel One news.
The footage was filmed by the attacker and showed him beating the naked victim, whose face was blacked out. The rape was not shown.
The video was obtained by an Israel Television reporter and used with the victim’s consent, who insisted only that no identifying details be shown.
The victim and the alleged perpetrator spoke in Russian. Hebrew subtitles were provided.
Israel Broadcasting Authority officials responsible for the newscast defended the use of the footage as material that must be made public.
During an internal discussion of the matter, others described it as crossing a red line.
“If you don’t broadcast it, nothing happens, but if you do, it naturally raises a storm that must be dealt with,” said IBA director-general Uri Porat.
He subsequently instructed news directors to be cautious in dealing with sensitive materials, and said that in hindsight, less video footage could have been shown.
Women’s rights activists denounced the use of the footage, with Labor Knesset member Yael Dayan calling the broadcast “pornographic.”
Meirav Dadia, director of a Tel Aviv rape crisis center, told the daily Ma’ariv that in the wake of the broadcast, the number of phone calls to the center had increased.
“But these were not inquiries for help, but expressions of shock. The coverage was sensational and voyeuristic and did not serve any purpose but that of the abusers,” she said.
Dadia said the broadcast of the footage would harm efforts to encourage women who have been assaulted to come forward.
“It silences women and does not prompt them to seek help,” she said.