Welfare Ministry data shows increase in reports of domestic violence

The ministry released its annual data of domestic violence in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women2 (photo credit: PR)
Violence against women2
(photo credit: PR)

In honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which will be marked on November 25, the Welfare Ministry released its annual data that show a rise in violent incidents within the family.

The ministry's data showed that from the beginning of 2021 until the end of October, some 7,977 cases of domestic violence were reported to the 118 Call Center that is run by the ministry. This is a 10% rise from last year.

Of the documented cases, some 4,382 were of violence against women by their partners, 295 were against men by their partners and 1,649 were against children.

In May 2020, the 118 Call Center started a system in which people could send the center "quiet messages" by texting 0557000128. Between January and October, some 334 such messages were sent to the hotline.

In 2020, a special separate hotline was set up for men who were experiencing domestic violence.

 The new Aluma emergency center is opened for victims of domestic violence. (credit: RONEN HORESH/GPO) The new Aluma emergency center is opened for victims of domestic violence. (credit: RONEN HORESH/GPO)

In the same year, the Welfare Ministry set up 165 regional centers around the country to deal with and prevent domestic violence. Out of those, 59 were dedicated to domestic violence in the Arab sector, and four were dedicated to the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector.

Similarly, in the past year, two new women's shelters were opened. But, as opposed to the rise seen in reports of domestic violence and people turning to the care and prevention centers, the shelters around the country marked a decrease in women in 2021, with 498 women turning to shelters in 2021 as opposed to 603 in 2020.

"Domestic violence is a severe social phenomenon, but it does not have to be so," said Welfare Minister Meir Cohen. "As a society, we have the ability to work to prevent the phenomenon, put aside resources to help the victims and give the victims full defense and support.

"The Welfare Ministry puts the treatment and prevention of domestic violence at the top of its priorities," he said. "The ministry developed many responses to dealing with the phenomenon. Thanks to the passing of the budget, we have raised the budget for the inter-ministry plan to NIS 155 million for 2022. We won't settle for a situation where the home becomes a trap of violence and fear for so many women and children."

"WE FIND ourselves in a time of rising developing services for women and families that are stuck in a cycle of violence and [we] put an emphasis on recognition and prevention of domestic violence," said Director-General of the Welfare Ministry Sigal Moran. 

"The social workers in the social services department and in the ministry are working not only to give the best response to those who have already experienced violence, but also to act in various creative ways to make women who are stuck in a cycle of violence to understand their situation and dare to ask for help," she said.

"Last month we opened the Aluma Center, the first center of its kind in the world, that acts as an emergency room for domestic violence. The more we make services accessible and develop new responses to domestic violence, the more we see people asking for help, which is an important initial step to get out of the cycle of violence."

The new Aluma Center is a 24/7 emergency center that includes all the relevant officials to help deal with domestic violence, from police to law and mental health officials. The center also has dormitories to give domestic violence victims an emergency place to sleep temporarily.

"One of the most important developments in the topic of domestic violence is making the definition of the term clearer and clearing up what qualifies as violence," according to Iris Florentine, Deputy Director-General of Social Services and chairwoman of the Inter-Ministry Committee for the Treatment of Domestic Violence.

"We have learned that it is not only physical violence that harms women and children," she said. "We have also seen economical violence, sexual violence, verbal violence and emotional violence. Together with the development of services and changes in the law, our mission is also making information more accessible and raising public awareness."