A Bedouin man from Israel’s south was arrested this week on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old Palestinian girl from the West Bank city of Hebron, after allegedly purchasing her from her family and forcibly marrying her.
The girl has been placed under the protection of Israeli social services after reportedly walking up to Border Police officers in Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs and asking for their assistance.
The 25-year-old man, whose remand was extended Tuesday by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court, faces charges of rape as well as physical and emotional abuse.
The girl, who was reportedly given to the man by her father in exchange for NIS 10,000 (around $2800) several months ago, initially ran away from her husband’s Segev Shalom home and returned to her family’s home in Hebron.
But her father’s subsequent behavior towards her led her to escape back into Israel, where she has been placed in a shelter.
The girl also has family members in Israel’s north, who have requested that she be allowed to live with them, a request the authorities are considering.
The Israeli family’s attorney Nachmi Feinblatt said the girl’s father had also beaten her in the past.
“He’s apparently not right in the head and sold her to a Negev resident for financial reasons,” Feinblatt told Ynet. “Somehow she managed to escape, ran up to Border Policemen at a post at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and told them everything that happened.”
He said he has asked authorities not to return the girl to Hebron, due to the threat to her life.
One Israeli relative of the girl told Haaretz: “When I heard what happened to the girl I was horrified. The girl grew up in a bad place for children, she grew up in a difficult environment. Her father beat her all [her] life and then sold her like property to a husband who also beat her and did horrible things to her.
“She is a brave girl. She has already gone through and seen many more things in life than she needed to see. The time has come for her to have an easy life,” the relative added.
An attorney for the Bedouin man said the marriage was “legitimate” and that his client was misled about her age.
“As far as the suspect is concerned this is a legitimate marriage. She was presented to him as being 17-years-old,” the lawyer told Ynet.
“He treated her well and with respect and when he learned it was not her real age he stopped having sexual relations with her. He never used violence against her,” he added.