The government should establish a national program to combat violence in the family, which would put Israel in line with recommendations recently issued by the European Council, MK Tzipi Hotovely, who chairs the Knesset Committee for the Status of Women, declared Tuesday.
The committee met in advance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is being marked around the world on Wednesday. The meeting aimed to examine Israel's overall response to violence against women, and compare it to responses in European states.
One of the European Council recommendations was to institute a national program to combat family violence, while establishing a specific governmental body tasked with confronting the problem, to centralize the government initiatives and monitor their progress. The majority of European states have adopted the European Council recommendations.
Hotovely asked representatives of relevant organizations, including the Israel Police, social workers and organizations dealing with family violence what they felt was still lacking in Israel's efforts to combat violence.
Among the issues raised were a lack of vocational rehabilitation for women who have been subjected to violence, programs for juveniles who have been exposed to violence in the family and alternative housing for those who cannot return to their homes.
Police and social workers agreed that the program that assigns social workers to police stations to facilitate initial responses to women who file complaints regarding abuse should be expanded. Social workers are currently found in 11 police stations, of the almost 70 nationwide.
"Increasing awareness about this subject is extremely important, but the problem is that it does not penetrate through to specific demographic groups in which the problem of violence is more frequent," said MK Nahman Shai (Kadima), concurring with Hotovely's call to establish an national authority to confront the issue.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Hotovely called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to establish a national emergency program to combat the phenomenon of violence against women.
But the Knesset's recognition of the international day was not confined to the committee. The Knesset held a seminar for MKs on sexual harassment in the workplace, and a number of speakers in the plenum utilized the one-minute speeches at the beginning of the session to address specific aspects of the subject.
"I would like to raise a subject that I always address - the phenomenon that is called 'family honor killings,'" said MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL). "In this sort of murder, sir, there is no honor. A man who does this is no man and thus this is a particularly ugly form of violence.
"No person has the right to act that way toward women because of a suspicion or a disagreement, as extreme as it might be. I condemn and am quite angry at all those who take the life of a woman or act against her with violence on the basis of some act or another."
Both Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) asked to officially concur with Tibi's comments.