Update: In December 2020, Israel's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Malka Leifer against a ruling to extradite her to Australia to face 74 charges of sexual abuse. Israel's Justice Minister can now sign the extradition order.
The Adass community in Melbourne is made up of about 250 families. They’re an ultra-Orthodox exclusive and insular group, who don’t generally mix with the wider public or even other Jewish communities.
There’s no TV, radio, internet, or newspaper. They don’t allow anything that can bring in influence from the outside world, and young women are taught to remain modest so they remain ‘pure’ for marriage. Words like ‘sex’ and ‘romance’ aren’t even in their vocabulary.
Dassi Erlich and her sisters, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper, grew up in that community.
WATCH: The sisters appeared on Australian Story in 2018. Post continues after video.
“My understanding of sex aged 16, 17 and 18 was that of a four or five-year-old,” Dassi told Fairfax Media in 2017.
The girls came from an abusive home, one where they lived in constant fear.
They all attended the community’s all-girls Adass Israel School. They were allowed to read books, but large parts of the text were blacked out.
“We couldn’t even have an understanding about what a relationship between a man and woman is,” explained Dassi.