'Relatives must be a lifeline for abused women'

Brother of murder victim who was murdered by her husband says "I knew what was happening, and I did not give her the chance to speak out."

November 25, 2010 05:22
4 minute read.
An abused woman.

abuse_311. (photo credit: Courtesy (illustrative).)


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Families must provide a lifeline to abused women and encourage them to speak out about their situations, the brother of a woman murdered just over a year ago by her husband told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Speaking one day ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Michael Ayelin, whose sister Orly was murdered by her husband in Netanya in October 2009, said, “I feel as though I am a partner to my sister’s murder – I knew what was happening, and I did not give her the chance to speak out; I did not help her get help.”

Ayelin will speak on Thursday at a central event in Tel Aviv organized by the Women’s International Zionist Organization to pay tribute to the 18 women murdered this year by their husbands or partners and the thousands of other women who are victims of domestic abuse and violence.

“I cry for my sister every day,” Ayelin, a veteran immigrant from Ethiopia and a resident of Yavne, told the Post. “I knew what was going on and I knew that something bad would happen to her, and yet I did nothing. I could have reported it to the police, I could have gone to the social services, I could have taken my sister out of her house. But there is a stigma attached to this type of violence and often we end up hiding from it.”

He continued, “I want to speak out about it and make sure that no other families have to go through what I have been through. I want every family to wake up, see what is happening and deal with it.”

On Thursday, WIZO will hold a mock funeral procession in Tel Aviv holding empty coffins to represent the women who were murdered this year.

The figures show an increase over the previous year where 15 women were murdered by their spouses or partners.

“The main message we want to convey this year is that family members, neighbors and friends should try to help these women and encourage them to come forward and get help,” said Nurit Kaufman, director of Violence Against Women at WIZO, which operates a hot line for battered women (1- 800-393-904).

“I have no idea why the numbers have increased over last year, but we can all play a part in preventing the next murder from happening,” Kaufman continued. “We need more awareness to the issue of domestic violence, and we all need to realize that behind every woman who suffers or who is murdered there is a whole family suffering too.”

Around 200,000 women are victims of domestic violence every year, and about 600,000 children are witnesses or also victims of this violence, according to figures published by WIZO on Wednesday.

Of the women murdered by their husbands or partners, a high proportion came from the Arab community (seven) and the Ethiopian immigrant community (three). The rest were from the former Soviet Union (three) and veteran Israelis.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services reported on Wednesday that in 2009, 748 women and 1,059 children went to live in battered women’s shelters after becoming victims of domestic violence, an increase over the 692 women and 1,016 children from the previous year.

Out of those who took refuge in one of 13 battered women’s shelters operated by this ministry, 76 percent were there due to domestic violence from their husband or partner, 4% after suffering violence from a divorced partner and 20% due to violence from a close relative.

The majority of women were sent to the shelters after referrals from social welfare services and 18% following treatment at government-run Family Treatment Centers.

The figures also showed that the majority of violence – 70% – suffered by the women was emotional or verbal; 63% was physical; 47% was economic and 24% sexual.

Many of the women are victims of more than one type of violence, information from the ministry said.

In addition, the ministry’s data revealed that the average age of women seeking protection at a battered women’s shelter had fallen in recent years, with some 85% of the women being under 40 and 81% having suffered violence for five years or more.

Aside from the shelters, social workers in 2009 also provided treatment for 8,545 families where violence was prevalent. Those not sent to live in shelters receive assistance at one of 73 government- run centers for created to deal with domestic violence.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he had ordered Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to find a way to increase the government’s budget for helping battered women in time for this Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“We need to find a solution to this problem as soon as possible,” the prime minister said.

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