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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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I was reading in an online forum that Judaism advocates that a rapist marry his victim. This sounds so backward and oppressive, and difficult to reconcile with the compassionate Judaism that I know and love. Is what I read accurate?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Highly inaccurate. (Are you surprised?)

Judaism takes a strong position against rape, with the Talmud comparing it to murder. As such, Judaism permits one to kill a rapist who is in pursuit of a woman, in order to save her from attack.

Rape of a married woman is a capital crime. (Deuteronomy 22:25)

Rape of a single woman carries a heavy monetary fine (depending on the age of the victim), plus the rapist has to pay reparation for damages, as well as for her suffering, embarrassment and emotional anguish. The rapist also incurs lashes. This is all intended as both a deterrent and a punishment (Deuteronomy 22:28-29, see also Rambam Rotzai'ach 2:4-5).

As regards to what you read, it is true that the Torah states that the rapist must marry (and may never divorce) his victim (actually only if she is at a certain young age at the time), but both she and her father can refuse the "match" – which they are extremely likely to do. I believe the message of the Torah is not that the rapist can have whom he wants, but quite the opposite. If he wants to enjoy another human being, he cannot just do so and split. He becomes responsible for her – for the rest of his life.

Feel free to post this response on that online forum.

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