PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu meets with women living at a WIZO and government sponsored shelter for victims of domestic violence, during a tour marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women..
(photo credit: KOBY GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with 11 residents of a shelter for battered women in Jerusalem on Wednesday then pledged his government would take “significant steps” against domestic violence, in honor of the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“All women deserve to live with dignity and with security,” Netanyahu said during his tour of the shelter run by the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and the Welfare Ministry.
“M,” a 28-year-old with two daughters told the prime minister about the physical and mental abuse she had suffered for years.
“All of us here left behind full lives – a house, friends, work – and now we are forced to start our life anew. It is not easy, and we need help,” she said.
Netanyahu thanked the women for sharing their stories and pledged his government would take “significant steps” to eradicate domestic violence and support women and child victims.
“We will apply the full power of the law against criminals. I think of a situation where people are living in constant fear and distress – it is like [receiving] hammer blows constantly,” Netanyahu said.
He instructed Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, at his side, to seek ways to allow women forced to leave their homes to return to claim personal belongings, with police protection; to check into securing greater income support for women in shelters; and to expand employment rehabilitation programs on their behalf.
Eliezer Yablon, director-general of the Welfare Ministry, said the issue was central to the ministry’s agenda, and cited Netanyahu’s approval of a request by Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz to increase the office’s budget by 20 percent next year – all geared toward addressing domestic violence.
He also told Netanyahu that just a small number of women report domestic violence to the authorities, and Netanyahu urged all women to “complain the first time,” saying the government will help them but that they also must help themselves and “not give up.”
“You deserve a life of dignity, a good life and a life where you can stand up straight, earn a living and raise your children in safety.
I know this is hard, but we will help you because it is our mitzva, it is our duty – to give you a life of dignity, security and livelihood,” Netanyahu said.
WIZO Israel chairwoman Gila Oshrat thanked Netanyahu for visiting the facility and urged him to adopt a national plan against violence.
NA’AMAT, the movement for working women and volunteers in Israel, released a poll showing that 62% of youths, some 74% of boys and 49% of girls, have witnessed violence between members of couples in their inner circle.
In addition, 8% of youths reported they had been victims of violence while in a relationship.
The findings, based on a survey of 400 Jewish youths ages 14 to 18 polled on November 5-6, also showed 68% of boys responding that “jealousy on the part of a boy/girlfriend was a sign of love,” while 57% of girls opposed the statement. A third of boys said it would “bother them” if their girlfriend had male friends.
More than half those surveyed said they do not receive any information regarding healthy relationships without violence, and three out of four respondents said their parents did not talk them about the issue.
“The survey data clearly shows that Israeli youth are exposed and experience violence in general and violence among couples in particular,” said Galia Wolloch, president of NA’AMAT Israel.
“It is no less grave that boys and girls do not receive any explanations or guiding hand – not at home and not in the education system,” she said.