Sa'ar pushes for Israel to join Istanbul Convention on domestic violence

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar is pushing for Israel to join the Council of Europe convention to fight violence against women and domestic violence.

Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe take part in a debate at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, April 25, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe take part in a debate at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, April 25, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar sent a letter Sunday to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid asking that he help advance Israel's joining of the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to combat violence against women. In the letter, Sa'ar asked Lapid to have his office submit to the Council of Europe a request to be invited to join the agreement.

"Out of recognition of the great importance of the fight against domestic violence and violence against women, we must act to continue the process [of joining the convention] and Israel must stand in the first line of countries around the world fighting this violence," he wrote.

The Council of Europe accord, drafted in Istanbul, pledges to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality. There are 35 countries signed onto the accord including Germany, Spain, Italy and Denmark.

Sa'ar has been coordinating with various ministries in order to advance Israel's joining of the agreement, said his office. Once Israel is invited to join, he intends to bring the accord to the government for approval.

Some 21 women were murdered in Israel in 2020 and four more were murdered in the first quarter of 2021, according to Hebrew University's Israeli Observatory on Femicide: an organization that tracks data on the murder of women in Israel in an attempt to provide tools and knowledge to fight this phenomenon.

 Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

There have been eight times as many domestic violence complaints during the coronavirus era, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said in June in a report about local municipal authorities.

The complaints were based on serious concerns, with 13 women being killed by their partners in 2020 – an increase of 160% from 2019.

The report also said there had been a 26% increase in requests for help from domestic violence victims to social and victims’ welfare centers and shelters.

Reuters and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.