Knesset holds talk on rise of domestic violence during coronavirus crisis

"This isn't domestic violence: This is terror in the home."

Parents of Maya Vishniyak during the Labor and Welfare Committee's Domestic Violence discussion (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Parents of Maya Vishniyak during the Labor and Welfare Committee's Domestic Violence discussion
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee held a discussion on domestic violence, the rise of cases during the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the government’s implementation of the Domestic Violence Prevention Program.
The meeting, which discussed the 40% rise of domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 outbreak, was held with the participation of Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli (Labor) and Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud). The families of Michal Sela and of Maya Vishniyak, two victims of domestic violence, also took part in the discussion.
Lily Ben-Ami, sister of Michal Sela, speaks at the Knesset committee's discussion on the rise of domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak, June 22, 2020 (Photo Credit: Knesset Spokesperson's Office)Lily Ben-Ami, sister of Michal Sela, speaks at the Knesset committee's discussion on the rise of domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak, June 22, 2020 (Photo Credit: Knesset Spokesperson's Office)
The plan was approved in 2017, and was supposed to receive NIS 50 million a year, however since then, not all of the money has been transferred and the plan was only partially implemented.
“As the welfare minister at the time I approved the plan, I cannot say that we finished the job,” Katz said.
With regard to the government’s future intentions Katz said, “it’s very hard to find the money, but now I will do whatever the regulator has not done until now. I will pressure the Finance Ministry. We won’t shut up, and they will have to find the money and mechanisms necessary,” he added.
Lily Ben-Ami – sister of Michal Sela who was stabbed to death by her husband in October 2019 – blamed the government for the attack just days after, and slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration for not funding the National Program to Combat Violence Against Women, which was initiated in 2016.
During Monday’s discussion she said, “this isn’t domestic violence: This is terror in the home.”
The meeting was held against the backdrop of the rise of domestic cases filed, in addition to a recent rise in the murder of women. In April, it was reported that due to the effects of the coronavirus lockdown, there had been a sharp increase in the number of domestic violence complaints received by the Labor and Welfare Ministry's Hotline 118. By the end of the month, 222 complaints had been received.
“Despite the rise in calls to hotlines 118 and 100 [police] it is the assumption of the Welfare Committee that there are many more that don’t call,” said Iris Florentine, director-general of the Labor and Welfare Ministry’s division for personal and social services.
Shmuli said that, “During the recent period we have seen a very dramatic rise in the number of reports and complaints about violence towards women and towards children, and I do not want to know what is happening in the unreported world.”
He added: “We don’t have all the answers yet. We want to provide a more intensive solution also [with regard] to the men – not just more frameworks, but more solutions related to violent men. The activity must be intensified also in the area of enforcement and deterrence.”
Ariel Vishniyak, father of Maya Vishniyak who was murdered by her boyfriend on May 16, 2020, said that “anyone who has a young daughter at home, who has a Maya at home, never dreams that what happened to my daughter will happen.
“It all starts with education at home: distinguishing between good and bad. But the law in Israel must change – the murderer should sit in prison his entire life. It cannot be that he will be able to go free and start a family,” said Vishniyak.
MK Idan Roll (Yesh Atid) added that, “domestic violence takes place in a parallel universe that most of us are not exposed to until a murder is reported in the media and it gains light for a few days – but then it just goes away again.
“We teach our children to be careful when crossing the road, or how to act when there’s a bomb threat, but not one of us knows how to recognize distress or an abusive partner.”