September 23rd, 2009
22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.
26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
Very plainly, this law from Deuteronomy 22 suggests that the law giver does not understand how rape works. Firstly, it suggests that a wife raped is the same an adulterous wife. Then, that a wife-to-be is more important than a woman who is not betrothed, as the man is not put to death for defiling such a virgin. In fact, the only things considered immoral in these texts is the defiling of another man’s wife or wife-to-be. This suggests that the law giver believed women to be the property of men.
On the topic of the mechanics of rape, this ancient and short-sighted law does not take into account the possible reasons a woman might have for refraining to cry out. It completely disregards the woman’s ability or inability to fight back or cry out for help and suggests that her mere proximity to other people would render her able to let her assailant’s actions be known. This is not always the case. With this in mind, it is painfully obvious that the author cared more for the property of men than for the well-being of women.