Netanyahu pledges support for battered women during visit to J'lem shelter

Netanyahu pledges suppor

domestic violence protest 248.88 (photo credit: Yael Tzur)
domestic violence protest 248.88
(photo credit: Yael Tzur)
The government plans to spend NIS 3.5 million to renovate battered women's shelters, and will give a grant of NIS 10,000 to shelter residents who leave to rejoin the workforce, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, during a visit to a battered women's shelter to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. During his visit to the Jerusalem shelter, run by the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), Netanyahu also issued a warning to men who get violent with their partners, saying "anyone who threatens you, needs to feel threatened himself." Earlier in the day, around a hundred protesters dressed in black marched across Tel Aviv in what organizers called a "funeral procession," carrying 15 black "coffins" meant to represent the 15 women killed in Israel this past year by domestic violence. The event was organized by WIZO to mark the annual day, and as part of their ongoing efforts to bring the issue of violence against women to the forefront of Israel's domestic agenda. Opposition leader and Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni addressed a rally held in a tent at the Cinematech in Tel Aviv at the end of the march, where she called for legislation to fight domestic violence. "It's not enough to just say 'stop' or 'that's enough,' we need stricter legislation," Livni said, adding that the issue had support from MKs across the political spectrum. Inside the tent, MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and Ben-Dov lit memorial candles, as a speaker read out the names of the 15 women. Across the walls of the tent, 15 faux death notices were affixed, each with the name, age, and hometown of a woman murdered last year in Israel. The women's last names indicated that a full range of Israeli society was affected, with Russian, Arabic, Ethiopian, and Anglo surnames all listed. On one announcement, the name simply read "anonymous," with the name of the Israeli Arab village Kalansuwa written underneath. MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), the chairman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, told the rally "even one woman being beaten is unacceptable," and called on the government to hold an emergency session on the issue of violence against women. "If the government can instantly start an emergency program to deal with the economy or to fight terrorism, then there is no reason they can't come up with an emergency program to combat violence," Hotovely said. WIZO Chairman Tova Ben-Dov told The Jerusalem Post that the march and rally were part of their ongoing efforts to fight what she says is a worsening phenomenon. Ben-Dov said WIZO gives classes on the dangers of domestic violence, to "teach boys and girls from a very young age that this [violence] isn't love. We think we can make a difference in this regard." The rally came only days after Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told MKs of a survey that found that 22% of Israeli men feel it is their right to force their partner to have sexual relations with them. The survey also found that one in 10 Israeli women is a victim of domestic violence. On Wednesday, the Tel Hai Academic College released a report that found that 40% of single Israeli women said they were sexually harassed at work on a regular basis, and that 80% had suffered some form of sexual harassment at their place of employment in the past. The rally also followed revelations earlier this week that the WIZO-run battered women's emergency hot line will be merged into a national hot line covering all issues relating to social welfare.