Facebook official lauds Israeli domestic violence hackathon efforts

The hackathon winner was HearMe, an anonymous reporting platform which allows those in distress to contact local authorities with real-time recording and questioning.

Lily Ben Ami, sister of Michal Sela who was murdered by Eliran Malul, hosts a hackathon to combat domestic violence. (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
Lily Ben Ami, sister of Michal Sela who was murdered by Eliran Malul, hosts a hackathon to combat domestic violence.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg shared the story of Michal Sela – an Israeli woman murdered in 2019 by her husband – on her Facebook page on Tuesday, lauding Sela's sister, Lily Ben Ami, and President Reuven Rivlin for the unique hackathon they launched to combat domestic violence.
Sela was murdered in October of 2019 by husband Eliran Malul in the presence of their eight-month-old baby and was found with multiple stab wounds after neighbors called the police. Sela met Malul while working as a social worker to help at-risk teens.
"This Monday should have been Michal Sela’s 33rd birthday," Sandberg wrote. "An outgoing young Israeli woman from a close-knit family, with a beautiful eight-month-old daughter, she should have been able to look forward to a bright future – but that future was cut short in a brutal but all too common way."
Sandberg lauded Ben Ami's initiative to create the Michal Sela Forum and planning the hackathon, the Safe@Home Hackathon, which was intent on "raising awareness about domestic violence and getting creative people to develop new ways of using technology to bring help in times of crisis and to prevent more victims." The event was on Sela's 33rd birthday.
"I am proud that Facebook is supporting the hackathon and donating the first prize – 33,000 shekels to mark what should have been 33 years for Michal," she continued.

The hackathon winner was Stay Tuned, a fake news website through which women may report that they feel unsafe, record conversations, or send messages to pre-selected contacts.
"For many women such as Michal, this initiative is late in coming. Too late," Rivlin said at the event. "But for many other women, it can be a lifeline. Women of all ages, from all parts of society, feel under threat. Mothers, daughters, sisters, career women, friends. Each one of them is an entire world. With each murder of this kind, entire families are blown apart. Their children, parents, brothers and sisters all pay a heavy price. And not just them. Society pays a price."
Rivlin continued, "Violence against women is not just a problem for women. It harms us all, including men. It harms us as a society. We must, all of us, prevent it, fight it, expose it and end it. That includes using unpleasant and impolite means, using advanced technologies, based on the understanding that violence against women is not an inevitable fact of life."
Rivlin reminded the audience that he is approaching his final year as president, saying, "During this time, I will devote my best efforts to the important battle against domestic violence. This terror takes strong, wonderful women full of life from us, time after time."
Ben Ami, when speaking at the event, said that the goal is "to turn Israel into a global superpower in preventing domestic terrorism" with the goal of "zero murders a year."
Labor, Social Affairs and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli said that he understands that his responsibility in the Knesset is "to get the entire Israeli government to put forward the resources required to establish a system to monitor and get violent men away, to widen the support for victims, to strengthen coordination between the various bodies and more."
"The murder of a woman by her partner is nothing like murder among criminals," said Regional Cooperation Minister Gilad Erdan. "The moral responsibility is first and foremost that of the country and the police, and to protect that innocent woman at risk before putting resources to protect members of crime organizations. The fight against gender terrorism comes before the fight against organized crime. In my role at the UN, I promise to continue my commitment to this fight."
Another competitor in the hackathon was Safe and Sound, a hidden app activated by a series of words said by the user which activate a number of actions automatically to cope with emergency situations.
Salvatio Push, another competitor, is a silicone device that sends a woman's location to a select group of contacts, as well as notifying them through an app should she face an emergency.
WeHearYa offered a minuscule hidden recording device with a large memory, allowing women to record and later report abuse.
Safety Strap is a bracelet of sorts that measures the person's level of distress and sends updates and warnings to pre-selected contacts.
MedFlag analyzes digital medical records so as to report abuse to medical professionals without any action needed on the part of the victim, while HearMe is an anonymous reporting platform which allows those in distress to contact local authorities with real-time recording and questioning.
A recent report by the state comptroller stated that one in four women experience sexual harrasment or assault in Israel. As of yet, eight women and one baby were murdered in cases of domestic abuse in 2020 in Israel. Six of those women were murdered since the coronavirus restrictions were set forth.