Israel shows no tolerance for violence against women

WIZO chair: domestic abuse is "social terrorism" • Tel Aviv rally attendees call to stop cycle of violence

A protester holding an "Abuse isn't Love" sign at a protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv (photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)
A protester holding an "Abuse isn't Love" sign at a protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)
Israel showed its support for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women as thousands took to the streets to rally against this “social terrorism.”
Tel Aviv hosted a rally filled with thousands of protesters, calling for immediate reforms when addressing violence against women, with calls to “blame the rapist” and “the government is apathetic to violence against women.”
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai opened the rally in the courtyard at the entrance of the Cameri Theatre. “The right of women to have security should be obvious,” he said, adding that women should have the right to perform, referencing the Shlomo Artzi-inspired show that removed female performances so as to be accessible to the haredi community.
“It is unbelievable that a woman who wants out of a relationship or chooses a certain way of life feels threatened, experiences harsh violence or, in the worst case scenario, is murdered,” said Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Tzippi Brand ahead of the rally.
WIZO held a conference on Monday titled “Trapped Online,” dedicated to looking into the new realm of “cyber” when it comes to domestic abuse and violence against women in the computer age.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post after the conference, WIZO Israel chairwoman Ora Korazim called domestic abuse a form of “social terrorism.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people are in this cycle of violence and live in fear with their children every single day,” she said. “These children grow up with so many scars, and quite a few of them, statistically speaking, [end up becoming abusers themselves].”
Korazim explained that the key to finding a solution for violence against women is sharing. “The fact that, on average, 60 reports are made per day [to the WIZO domestic abuse hotline, indicates] that women are less frightened and more aware of what violence is... this shows a change in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Korazim was referring to newly-released statistics, revealing that the WIZO domestic abuse hotline received a staggering 70% boost in domestic abuse reports, although there are no more cases than previous years. "Perhaps this #MeToo era brought along a sense of sharing, but it's important to remember that when one person shares with her friend, it's still her friend, it is not a professional, and to make a change, women must receive help from professionals."
Head of the National Program to Prevent Domestic Violence Yasmin Wolech told the Post that oftentimes, friends and family will notice what’s happening and not really feel it appropriate to intervene.
Wolech heads an inter-office committee on domestic violence. “Domestic violence is a complex issue and to care for it, we must [unite],” she said.
Reports by the Association of Relief Centers for Victims of Sexual Assault (ARCVSA) referring to 2018 and released ahead of Monday’s events revealed a large spike of 41% in domestic abuse reports.
“The rising trend of reports to the relief centers for victims of sexual assault, which has been continuing for several years now, proves that there is a large need for men and women who experienced sexual assault to be heard and to receive emotional support and recognition of the assault in their pasts,” said ARCVSA CEO Orit Sotsiliano.
Korazim spoke out against the Knesset, which passed legislation in 2017 for a program that would deal with domestic abuse and violence against women, but which was never implemented due to lack of funding. It was announced on Monday that the program will be delayed by two more years, with the end goal being set for 2024.
“I ask the government to promote this plan and to join us: to do the right thing to prevent the entire subject of domestic violence,” she said. “We must work together to do this in a number of fields: in welfare, education, legislation, etc.”
The Knesset nevertheless held events throughout the day to promote the internationally-recognized day, which was implemented by the United Nations, involving a moment of silence for the 13 women murdered this year in acts of domestic violence.
The female Knesset members who led the event made a point to mention that the struggle is apolitical. Blue and White MK Pnina Tamano-Shata initiated a bill which would require the state to offer abused women and children refuge.
New Right party chair and former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the right and the left, men and women from all sectors and genders to unite to fight the phenomenon of violence.
"There are days in which we can put everything else aside and to be united," Shaked wrote on Facebook. "Today, the International Day to Combat Violence Against Women, is one of those days."
"We will not allow women to be abandoned due to political chaos," said Joint List MK Aida Toma Saliman. "We must pass the budgets and carry out the plans that the government has understaken," she added, mentioning the same legislation that Korazim spoke of.
Blue and White head Benny Gantz explained that the state is more focused on security vulnerabilities and less on personal security. "We must act on four levels," he said. "Education, assistance, enforcement and the establishment of necessary infrastructure for those affected."
The Knesset events included a legislative debate on the 2017 bill, testimonies presented by victims of domestic abuse, and MKs reading the chilling testimonies of murdered women.
The Knesset events were "nice, but it is not enough," according to Korazim. "We need the help [of the government]. We must give the education, funding, and treatment necessary."
Approximately 51,000 people complained of sexual assault to the ARCVSA. A staggering 88% of the sexual assaults reported were carried out by people the victims knew beforehand.
The State of Israel showed country-wide support for the day of recognition, with many of the most prominent buildings in the skyline lit up in red in memory of the women killed in acts of violence.
The Sami Ofer Stadium in Haifa, the Beersheba municipality building, the Meitarim Bridge in Jerusalem and several other landmarks shone bright red on Monday night.
The Tel Aviv municipality building was lit up, as well, and displayed an art exhibit consisting of original outfits owned and worn by women who were killed in acts of violence carried out by their partners or spouses.
The exhibit, titled She’s Gone, was put together by artist Keren Goldstein Yehezkeli, who said that the work seeks to “loudly protest” the circle of violence that some women experience at home with no foreseeable end in sight.