Reports of domestic violence on the rise

Herzog calls for compulsory treatment of violent men; "We are talking about a social and educational problem," he says.

battered woman 88 (photo credit: )
battered woman 88
(photo credit: )
More than 12,000 reports of domestic violence were recorded at the 64 government-run treatment centers during 2007, up 8 percent from the previous year, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry announced on Wednesday. The statistics were released in a report ahead of next Tuesday's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. "Domestic violence is present in all parts of society, it cuts across nationalities and into all segments of the population," said Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog. "We are talking about a social and educational problem." "It is imperative that we increase awareness of this phenomenon and explain about prevention to the next generation," he said. Herzog said his ministry was examining the possibility of passing legislation that would force violent men to undergo treatment. Currently, even men convicted of the most violent acts against members of their family are not compelled to participate in rehabilitation programs. Rina Bar-Tal, chairwoman of the Israel Women's Network, told The Jerusalem Post that despite efforts by the state to pass improved legislation and to implement new laws, the phenomenon of battered women continued to grow. "The State of Israel claims to protect every citizen, but in practice women here today are still beaten, raped, sexually harassed and routinely murdered," Bar-Tal said. "There are certain social patterns that still allow women to be treated as objects and not people." The only way to eliminate violence was through education and other prevention initiatives, she said. Perhaps the most alarming statistic published in the ministry's report referred to the 12 women who were murdered by their partner or spouse in 2007; the figure for 2008 so far is 10. The ministry's National Hotline for Battered Women and Children at Risk, which is run jointly with the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), received close to 4,000 calls reporting violence at home during 2007. Most of those who called reported oral and emotional violence, with 37% saying they were victims of physical violence, 8% subjected to financial control by their partner or spouse and 4% victims of sexual violence. The ministry said that 10,000 people had received treatment for domestic violence in 2007, 27% of them men. In addition, nearly 700 women and more than 1,000 children were place in battered women's shelters, where most stayed for one month until their situation improved, and a very small percentage needed to stay for six months. The International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women has been marked on November 25 since 1981 by women activists and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999.