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)
Seventeen women in the country have been killed by domestic violence this year, one more than in 2016, the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) reported.
Eighty-two women in total have died due to domestic violence in the past five years.
WIZO released its domestic violence index on Tuesday in preparation for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which takes place on November 25.
The report says that out of some 500,000 children exposed to domestic violence each year, only 2,000 are reported and treated in a center or shelter.
This accounts for less than 0.5% of the at-risk children.
The report adds that some 200,000 men commit acts of domestic violence each year, and over one million Israelis are stuck in the “cycle of violence.”
In 2016, some 12,000 of the women who were victims of violent acts were treated by authorities and went to shelters.
Michal Orion Sagi, a social worker and WIZO’s director of programs for the advancement of women and for combating violence, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday: “Around 12,000 women were treated in shelters [in 2016] while 200,000 women needed to be treated. And when you talk about kids that are witnessing the violence, even fewer are being helped.... The main issue is that so many families are caught in the ‘cycle of violence’ and so few are being treated.”
According to Orion Sagi, violence is not limited only to physical abuse, but also sexual assault, stalking, strangling and verbal abuse.
The research showed that some 1,500 babies are born annually into “violent” households.
“This means that [around] four babies are born every day into the ‘cycle of violence,’” said Orion Sagi.
She explained the implications of this number: “We need to look at the children that are caught in the ‘cycle of violence’ and witnessing the violence between their parents. In 10 to 20 years, these kids will have families of their own and the potential of [them] being a victim or an abuser is significantly higher than kids from homes without this type of exposure.”
Orion Sagi explained the damaging effects of growing up in a violent household.
“These kids have higher risks for suicide, depression and overall physical and mental health problems,” she said. “If they see violence at home, this is the way they learn to communicate with the world.”
The information collected by WIZO came from the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, the Health Ministry, the court system and the Israel Police between 2016 and 2017 and implies that there are tens of thousands more families that are living inside the “cycle of violence” that are not being reported to the authorities.
The report also notes a 10% increase in restraining orders from 2016 compared to 2015.
The report shows that 8,935 families and 10,116 individuals went to one of the 103 domestic abuse shelters in the country in 2016. Out of that total number of individuals, 2,568 were men.
Out of the 103 shelters, only 20 are equipped to treat children.
Orion Sagi explained to the Post the difficulty that comes with reporting these acts of domestic violence. “It takes a long time for a woman to report it and to realize that they are victims and to stand up against it.” According to Orion Sagi, it takes an average of six years for a woman to begin working towards stopping the “cycle of violence.”
Orion Sagi explained the significance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. “Usually, after days like this and these reports, women feel more empowered to do something about breaking the ‘cycle of violence.’” She adds that it is also important to focus on preventative measures to ensure these trends shown in the report can reverse themselves. “Education is the key. We need to educate kids at an early age on how to deal with conflict, how to stand up for their rights. And when they get older, they need to learn how to treat their partners.”