Violence against women.
(photo credit: PR)
Chanting “Twenty women [are murdered] each year, where is the state?” and “Stop the violence, don’t let us die,” some 100 Hebrew University students protested violence against women.
The crowd, on the Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem on Wednesday, also held signs calling to tighten law enforcement and promote legislation on the matter.
The protest was organized by a wide coalition of political movements, and included students affiliated with the Labor, Likud, Meretz and Yesh Atid parties and the women’s rights group Yerushalmiyot.
Sixteen women have been murdered in Israel since the beginning of the year, in most cases by a family member.
Stav Piltz, one of the organizers, told The Jerusalem Post
that the protest aimed to express solidarity with women and to send a clear message to the government that urgent change is needed.
“We condemn the helplessness of the police and of the establishment when it comes to violence against women,” Piltz said. “It is ridiculous.”
She said that the recent wave of murders of women, which received wide media coverage, got her and her friends thinking, and they could not remain silent anymore.
“We learned that in many cases, women call the police for help but are ignored,” she said. “We often hear that cases are being treated without the proper attention and that abusive husbands are still walking freely.”
Piltz added that the just and proper treatment is not to lock up women in shelters but to imprison the offenders.
One of the key speakers at the protest was Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University. Shalhoub-Kevorkian emphasized the need to voice objection to the terminology used in public discourse when it comes to the murder of women.
“Think about the political aspect of this matter,” she said. “When we hear in the media about the murder of women, they often say that it was ‘a romantic issue,’ or a murder ‘against the background of the family’s dignity,’ in Arab society.
“These expressions are degrading,” she said. “When they are used, it detracts from the magnitude of these horrific incidents.”
Shalhoub-Kevorkian then called on the protesters to object to the use of such expressions. “Raise your voices,” she said. “Remaining silent is equal to acceptance of the murder.”
On Tuesday, the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality held an emergency discussion on the subject.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz were invited to speak at the panel, but did not attend.
The chairwoman of the panel, MK Aida Touma-Sliman, criticized the ministers for their absence.
“These are minister who are supposed to lead the effort and the struggle to stop this bloodshed, in which 16 women have been murdered since the beginning of the year – and four in one week,” she said.
Touma-Sliman urged the government to act on the matter. “I hope that they will snap out of their complacence and start acting like those who went out to the streets.”
Earlier this week, the Ministerial Committee for Combating Domestic Violence approved the recommendation for a national plan to combat domestic violence. The plan suggests new methods in the fields of prevention, location, enforcement, punishment and rehabilitation of those who are involved in domestic violence in its different forms.
The cost of the five-year plan is an estimated NIS 250 million.
The plan calls for interministerial coordination that would include opening regional assistance centers and a 24/7 hotline for women under threat; provisions for special target groups, including Arabs, haredim (ultra-Orthodox), olim (new immigrants) and the mentally disabled. “Family departments” would also be established in 15 police stations across the country.