There has been a dramatic fall in domestic violence among new immigrant families over the past five years since the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and Immigrant Absorption Ministry jointly launched Gesher, a program aimed at tackling the problem, the two ministries announced Sunday.

Released ahead of a one-day symposium for social workers to learn how to work effectively within various cultures to reduce violence, the figures show that the number of Ethiopian immigrant women being murdered by their spouses has fallen and the number of Ethiopian men seeking treatment has increased.

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The ministry has also undertaken to recruit more social workers who speak Russian or Amharic to work at its family treatment centers, and has encouraged Hebrew-speaking social workers to be more culturally sensitive and aware of the difficulties facing new olim, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry said, in a statement.

“We are constantly striving for zero tolerance for violence,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said Sunday. “From what we have been told by members of these communities, the problems [of domestic violence] run very deep and as we are aware, migrating is a factor that increases the natural tendencies to violence. Fitting in with a new society and dealing with the language barriers or cultural difference only add to these difficulties.”

Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said: “I have given this issue top priority in my office and even though we have seen a decrease in domestic violence in the last five years, this does not mean we can rest just yet. We must do all we can to continue with this program.”

Created in 2005 to deal with the relatively large numbers of domestic abuse cases in both the Ethiopian and Russianspeaking immigrant communities, the Gesher program is run today in some 30 locales where there are large oleh populations and is serviced by some 40 social workers of various backgrounds.



Police figures confirm that there has been a drop in the number of immigrant women being murdered by their partners or spouses in the last five years. While in 2005, reports showed that four Ethiopian women and three Russian-speaking women murdered by their spouses or partners, by 2009 there were none.

However, 2010 has already seen one Ethiopian woman killed by her husband and two immigrants from the former Soviet Union being killed.

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