MK Danny Danon 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset)
Calling the murder of Ethiopian women by their husbands an epidemic that must be
stopped immediately, the chairman of the Knesset Committee for Aliya, Absorption
and Diaspora Affairs said Wednesday society must not wait idly for the “next
shocking murder” to take place.
MK Danny Danon (Likud), who was speaking
at special hearing following the murder- suicide last week’s of Lawaka and Yeshi
Amara in Rishon Lezion, received data from the Knesset’s Research and
Information Department showing that 30 percent of such domestic crimes occur
within the Ethiopian immigrant community.
“We should not be accepting
this statistic,” stated Danon, highlighting that there seems to be failure by
the authorities in reaching and treating immigrant families that are struggling
as they start their new lives in Israel.
“As a society we are not being
successful in pinpointing the problems that these olim are facing,” he
said. “We cannot wait for the next shocking event to happen, this is an
epidemic and it cannot be ignored.”
Danon called on the Immigrant
Absorption Ministry to set in motion a program that would immediately tackle the
problem and to report back to the committee in the near future.
to statistics compiled by Knesset researchers, out of 102 women who were
murdered by their partners between 2004 and 2012, 21 were Ethiopian.
Furthermore, data from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry suggests additional
murders that were not recorded by police due to lack of evidence or
“We have entered into an awful cycle of discussions that take
place after every murder,” commented the Knesset’s only Ethiopianborn MK, Shlomo
Molla (Kadima), pointing out that Wednesday’s meeting was approximately the 10th
such hearing to be called in the last four years to discuss this
Molla said the onus was on the Immigrant Absorption Ministry to
help ease the immigrant’s transition from absorption centers, where they live
initially after arriving in Israel, to permanent housing. He also said there
needed to be more focus on violent men and on helping divorcing
Molla also suggested the government return to funding the
Bahalachin, a cultural center structured according to Ethiopian society, that
provides counseling and supportive services for the community.
each tragic incident, experts working with the community are often quick to
point out the social support system that exists in Ethiopia to help couples work
through their problems suddenly disappears after the immigrants arrive
here. Although attention is still paid to the elders and spiritual
leaders while the immigrants are living in absorption centers, once they leave
that close-knit community, there is no culturally suitable alternative system to
In addition, they point out that new immigrants are often
faced with social and economic pressures that did not exist in Ethiopia, where
the men spend most of their time working and the women taking care of the home
Representatives of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry admitted
Wednesday that for the community of 115,000 there are only 26 Ethiopian social
workers that really understand the social and culture problems that exist. More
are needed they said.
The ministry’s head of Ethiopian immigration, David
Yassu, said, however, that detecting the problem was also an issue.
one knows who the next potential murderer could be, the last murder-suicide
happened in a normal family,” he said referring to events last week in Rishon
Lezion where Lawaka Amara, 37, stabbed his wife, Yeshi, 32, to death and then
hanged himself. The couple, who had three children, immigrated five years ago
and had no case file with local welfare services.
Other experts present
at Wednesday’s meeting said some efforts were already being made to treat
potentially violent husbands, provide shelter for battered women and offer
counseling to troubled couples before and after they arrive in
The Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs' national coordinator
for combating domestic violence, Said Tali, said two group homes exist to treat
violent men and two more centers are set to open soon. Out of 62 men, who, in
recent years, have received treatment for domestic violence, five or six were
from the Ethiopian community. And out of the 750 women in 13 government-
sponsored shelters, 92 were Ethiopian-born.
The Jewish Agency for
Israel’s Director of Social Welfare Mira Keidar also pointed out to a program
that provides Ethiopian olim and those waiting to immigrate with couple’s
counseling. However, she said such programs were limited and there was
little budget to expand them.