Project Genesis

Family and Relationships

Modesty & Sexuality

Rapist Must Marry the Victim

Question: Is it true that if a man rapes a girl he is obliged by the Torah to marry her?!

Answer: It’s true…but the rapist is ONLY obligated to marry his victim IF she wants him to – in other words, the law is entirely in her interest and for her benefit: in case she finds herself unable to attract any better choices for marriage. I would imagine that such victims would have only made that choice under very unusual circumstances!

With regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

3 Follow-ups »

  1. In reply to the question about a rapist having to marry his victim, your Rabbi says that this only applies if she wants to marry him. Please could you tell me what verse in the bible mentions that the woman has any say in the matter. It may be that I am reading false translations, but I can only find mention of compensation to her father.

    The source for the law that a rape victim (or, if she is underage, her father) has the right to refuse marriage with the rapist is the Gemara Kesuvos 39b which understands the words “To him she will be a wife” (Deut. 22:19) as requiring her consent. These words actually refer to a previous law but are extended to apply to rape victims as well.

    With regards,
    Rabbi Boruch Clinton

    Is the “previous law” referred to in your answer based on any Biblical text, or are we again in the realm of the Gemara? Also I read on the web an article on these verses which claimed, and gave Hebrew quotes, that there is more than one word used for rape in the Bible, and the Deut 22 word refers to what would now be described as date rape

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear enough. The previous law was Deut. ch. 22, verses 13-19 (the law of a husband who slanders his new wife, falsely claiming that she wasn’t a virgin). The words “To him she will be a wife” are actually part of that section. The oral law actually extends them to the rape victim mentioned in verse 26.

    I’m afraid I can’t see any likely reference to “date-rape” in these verses. Verses 22-24 clearly refer to consensual adulterous relations, while the presumption of verses 25-27 is “simple” rape (i. e., the girl played no active role in the crime).

    Hope this helps… BC

    Comment by ATR — November 18, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

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