Ethiopian women grieve after domestic murder 390.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lack of funding and continued friction between the Jewish Agency and the
Immigrant Absorption Ministry means that a program proven to effectively tackle
high levels of domestic violence among Ethiopian olim is only reaching a handful
Mira Kiedar, director of social work for the Jewish Agency,
devised the program together with social workers, psychologists and
The 20-week workshop for both men and women has, over
the past few years, seen extremely positive results in reducing domestic
violence and improving conflict resolution among couples living in absorption
centers, she said on Monday.
However, funding for the program has
dwindled over recent years, resulting in only 40 couples in two absorption
centers being offered the chance to take the course. It is unclear how many
troubled families will get the chance in 2012.
“I know that beyond a
doubt this program can prevent domestic violence and murders of women by their
husbands,” Kiedar, a trained social worker, told The Jerusalem Post.
the tools to help them and the model that we have built has proved
The program focuses on the relationship between husbands and
wives, as well as on their interaction with children after moving from a
patriarchal society in Africa to a modern Western country, such as Israel, she
“We help them to decide what parts of their culture they will keep
and what they have to change now that they are living in Israel in 2012,”
explained Kiedar, who has also devised a technique to identify those couples
most at risk for domestic violence as they move forward in their new lives
According to figures released last week by the Knesset Research and
Information Department, out of 102 women murdered by their partners between 2004
and 2011, 21 were from the Ethiopian community. Experts believe this is only the
tip of the iceberg.
Kedar said her program should become a mandatory part
of the absorption process for all Ethiopian immigrant couples and
single-mothers, and she has been appealing to the government to fund
While in principle the Immigrant Absorption Ministry has agreed to
adopt a version of Kiedar’s program, as well as a guidebook for how to work
culturally with the new immigrants, the workshops will be incorporated into the
government’s five-year program for Ethiopian immigrants.
That means that,
in its current format, the program will only be offered in six towns, where
mostly veteran Ethiopian immigrants live.
A spokesman for the ministry
said that programs in immigrant absorption centers were the responsibility of
the Jewish Agency.
In response, a agency spokesman said: “The successful
absorption of entire populations into Israeli society is clearly the
responsibility of the ministry that was created to take care of
We support and develop these programs, but this country
cannot depend only on donors, any more than the future of Israeli society can
rest on anyone else’s shoulders other than the government.”
for this kind of program should be on the Falash Mura and not on veteran
immigrants,” said Dr. Shalva Weil, a senior researcher at the Research
Institution for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
and president for the Society of Study of Ethiopian Jews, referring to the most
recent group of Ethiopians to arrive in Israel.
Weil, who has spent more
than 30 years studying Ethiopian immigrant culture here, is the author of
in-depth research carried out on behalf of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry
examining why a disproportionally large number of murder-suicides have taken
place within the community.
Her findings, which include extensive
interviews with victims and their families, paint a clear profile of those most
at risk from extreme domestic violence. In most of the cases Weil examined, the
family had immigrated recently, the couple was married and they had more than
“We are not just talking about the women who are hurt in
these cases,” Weil said. “It is a horrific situation for the children who are
mostly present when the women are murdered and they end up being traumatized for
She added, “These immigrants go through such enormous changes when
they arrive here. Life is so different for them and it is such a lot for
them to take in.”