Israel Rape Law
© Agence France-Presse
Rape laws blurry for Israelis: researcher
More than 60 percent of Israeli men and 40 percent of women do not believe that forcing sex on an acquaintance constitutes rape, an Israeli researcher said on Tuesday.

The findings, set to be published in a book in the United States later in the year, indicate a stark difference between public perceptions of what constitutes rape and the way it is defined by law, author Avigail Moor told AFP.

"Among the public there is a very stereotypical view of rape of a stranger jumping out the bushes and assaulting a woman," said Moor, a psychologist who treats victims of sexual violence and a researcher at the Tel Hai college in northern Israel.

Moor asked participants in her study for a yes or no answer on whether forced sex was rape when carried out by a stranger, an acquaintance or a partner.

More than 90 percent of men and women said sexual assault by a stranger was rape. But only 59.8 percent of women and 39.6 percent of men thought forced sex by an acquaintance constituted rape.

As for sex without consent in a relationship, 18.5 percent of women and only 17.3 percent of men thought that was rape.

"This research highlights how much work needs to be done to make the public aware that the element that differentiates between acceptable sexual relations and rape is the element of consent," the study said.

"Israeli law does not make any difference between a stranger and an acquaintance," Moor said, adding that her poll revealed attitudes similar to those prevalent in other countries.

The study comes in the wake of the high-profile rape conviction of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who had been charged with assaulting members of his staff.

The poll was conducted among 160 women and 159 men and has a margin of error of 11.74 percentage points.