It requires a great deal of courage to speak out and bring an abusive parent, relative, neighbor or friend to justice. Last week alone, two young children were drowned by their guardians, and a massive police search is ongoing for a third child allegedly killed by her grandfather in May.
While it is too late to save these innocents, we must consider the next case. Do Israeli hotlines and aid organizations offer enough help to prevent violence and protect victims?
It takes a fair amount of patience to contact an agency. Most of the lines were inaccessible on Thursday afternoon, either sending the caller straight to voice mail or ringing for far longer than it would take an abused child to lose his or her determination and hastily hang up the phone call for help. One listed number (ELI) transferred to a company that specializes in importing cars.
Miklat, a shelter for religious battered women and their children, provided the following statistics: Each year, 1,500 people arrive at hospital emergency rooms as a result of domestic disputes, and an average of 17 women are murdered by their spouses. One out of three women will be sexually harassed in her lifetime. Most acts are committed by someone known to the victim.
Gila Oshrat, head of Women Empowerment at the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that children suffering abuse could contact the organization's hotline at 1-800-220-000.
Volunteer staff was available 24/7 to listen to problems and offer services, Oshrat said.
"All volunteers take part in a 12-session workshop on how to speak to people and encourage them to open up about their problems. They are knowledgeable on all the services offered in Israel, not only by our organization," she said.
WIZO also operates shelters and had three centers for treatment of family violence. One of their current projects is inviting battered women into schools to meet with children with behavioral problems for one hour every week.
Nurit Kaufman, director of the Violence against Women department at WIZO, said the WIZO hotline received approximately 4,000 calls per year. About half the calls are from the victims themselves, while the rest are from concerned family members or neighbors.
She suggests that the two recent cases of mothers drowning their young sons may have been triggered from the heavy publicity give to the Rose Pizem murder investigation last week.
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