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Thousands protest in Tel Aviv over 'gang rape' in nightclub

Activists chant 'this is the female Intifada' on Tel Aviv streets after 'gang rape' video goes public
Some 2,000 people took to the streets to demand the closure of the club (Facebook/A protest to demand closing Alenbi 40)

Some 2,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Tuesday to protest the apparent gang rape of a woman in a prominent nightclub. 

Groups of men and women marched in the streets for the third night in a row, chanting slogans such as “this is the female Intifada” and “one drink is not an invitation, two drinks is not an invitation to rape, 12 drinks is not an invitation to rape, 20 drinks is not an invitation to rape” in protest against what they say is the normalisation of “rape” in parts of Israeli society.

The incident happened a few months ago, but footage was recently leaked on social media and subsequently aired on Israeli television, prompting widespread outrage. An organiser told Middle East Eye that some protesters had travelled for several hours just to attend. 

“This is a consequence of living in a society where sex is something that you can take and you can buy," Michal Leibel, a protester and member of the Israeli Task Force for Human Trafficking and Prostitution, told MEE.

The incident took place in the Allenby 40 nightclub, where the woman - whose identity has remained anonymous - was filmed dancing naked on top of a bar before proceeding to have sex with a number of men.

The woman later said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News that she hadn’t been “sane” at the time due to the amount of alcohol she had been drinking, but that she had not been raped. 

“They poured it and I started drinking,” she told the channel. “As I drank, other men also ordered more drinks for me. I think I had between 12 and 15 drinks before I went on top of the bar.”

She said that she was wearing just a bathing suit when she climbed on top of the bar.

“At some point, at which I was no longer aware of anything, they just removed it,” she said. “One woman pulled the strings of my bra and bathing suit, and I was left naked.”

When the video emerged she was shocked at the response from many on social media.

“I was at home reading what was said about me and started to cry. I’m a woman who has never let any man mock me.”

Tuesday's protest was the third to hit Tel Aviv in the last few days (Facebook /A protest to demand closing Alenbi 40)

Protesters have now called for Allenby 40 to be closed, claiming it reflects an ingrained rape culture in Israel, in which sexual assault and the downplaying of rape have become an all too common phenomenon.

“What so many people found so shocking was that no one did anything. So many people saw these men having sex with this young girls – who looked like 19 years old – and did nothing,” said Leibel. 

“She clearly was so drunk that she could not stand and not a single person said anything and they acted like it was normal. They just let it happen. People were even just shouting directions at her. This is not even a strip club. This is a normal bar in Tel Aviv that is actually quite well known. There is a book written about it and there was a TV show.”

She said that there was a need to unify the different movements and organisations in Israeli society that dealt with sexual assault and the victims of rape, which studies have suggested is becoming increasingly common in Israeli society.

A report released by the Public Security Ministry into violence against women in 2012 revealed that every third Israeli woman experiences sexual assault in their lifetime.

The report said that 76 percent of Jewish Israeli women and 79 percent of female Palestinian citizens of Israel lived “in constant fear” of sexual assault.

In addition, the number of Muslim and Druze women murdered in Israel was around double that of Jews.

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