Knesset bill keeps domestic abuse cases behind closed doors

MKs across political spectrum cosponsor bill which seeks to protect privacy of women complaining of domestic violence.

July 19, 2012 05:35
1 minute read.
Woman covers her face [illustrative]

Domestic violence battered woman abuse 311. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

A multiparty effort succeeded on Wednesday in passing a new bill into law which states that domestic violence cases will be heard in court behind closed doors.

Knesset members across the spectrum cosponsored the bill, including: Nino Abesadze (Kadima); Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-On; opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich (Labor); Miri Regev (Likud); and Einat Wilf (Independence).

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The court will still have the authority to order that hearings be open to the public, but the default will be that hearings will be held behind closed doors.

Abesadze said the law was “born of a true need of women who complained of domestic violence and found themselves having to testify about intimate aspects of their relationship, the violence and abuse they suffered, before a full court [of people].”

She added that the most difficult details of abused women’s lives had been open to all.

“Knowing how hard it is for abused women to tell even the court about the violence and abuse they experienced, it has been even more difficult when the hearings have been open to the whole nation.”

Yechimovich celebrated the law’s passage, stating, “Unfortunately women are victims of violence and are ashamed of it as if it was their fault.”

She added that the new law will assist and support battered women in filing complaints against their abusers and testifying in their cases “without fear.”

Gal-On commented that the bill was designed to “ensure that those brave women who have experienced violent crimes and decided to file complaints and fight for their freedom can benefit from immunity, and not be afraid that their identities will be exposed during the legal proceedings against the abuser.”

Prior to the law’s passage, Gila Oshrat, chairwoman of the Women’s International Zionist Organization in Israel, said: “The law will encourage women to report violent crimes and not be deterred by a legal process that forces them to be exposed to many other dangers. It’s another step in our fight to help women choose a life without fear of violence.”

The law already recognized the need to protect complainants and defendants in sexual or violent offenses against minors, according to WIZO. However, there was no similar treatment in domestic violence cases until the new law was passed.

Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.

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