וַיַּרְא אֶת־עָנְיֵנוּ: זוֹ פְּרִישׁוּת דֶּֽרֶךְ אֶֽרֶץ. כְּמָה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וַיֵּדַע אֱלֹהִים

God saw our suffering: This is the stoppage of relations between husbands and wives, as it says: God saw the children of Israel, and God knew (Exodus 2:25)

For what reason did Pharoah spare the baby girls? He said, let us kill the boys, then when the girls grow up we can take them for ourselves. He did this because the Egyptians were awash in sexual immorality (Midrash Rabbah on Exodus 1:22).

     Just as the Egyptians may have set their sites on Israelite women, throughout history rape has been closely associated with war and oppression. Soldiers may even be explicitly ordered to rape enemy women. 

     Sexual exploitation is of course not limited to war. Sex trafficking is when a person uses force, fraud, or coercion to make someone else perform sex acts. Anyone under 18 performing commercial sex is automatically considered trafficked.

     Cultural, religious, or economic power can be used for sexual harassment, discrimination, or rape. One example of this is when parents or religious leaders force a girl to marry an older man against her will. While this practice is certainly less common now than in the past, it still continues, including in the United States.

Additional Reading

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is when a person is required to marry without consent. The most common example is a girl being married off by her parents. . .

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking in the U.S. occurs in mostly two ways. Foreign women are lured to the U.S. with false promises, and girls growing up in the United States who lack close ties to family or community are befriended by traffickers. . .

Rape in War

Rape is sometimes used as a weapon of war, to terrorize enemy civilians and force them to flee. Sometimes the opportunity for rape is a means of rewarding soldiers. In other cases soldiers may take advantage of the lawless environment created by war to carry out rape and other crimes. . .

Human Rights Haggadah Blog