Knesset approves amendment providing income support to battered women

Amendment aims to enable women who have been staying in shelters for more than a month to receive support.

Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Knesset approved last week the first reading of a proposal for an amendment to the National Insurance Law providing income support to victims of domestic violence.
The proposal, which had been initiated by the Women’s International Zionist Organization and led by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, came just a few weeks before International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which will be marked on November 25.
The amendment aims to enable women who have been staying in shelters for more than a month to receive support from the National Insurance Institute, in order to cut their economic dependence on their violent partner and move toward independent living. These expenses include mortgage payments, medicine, school and kindergarten fees and court fees, among others.
According to a recent survey conducted by WIZO, only about 20 out of the 700 women living in shelters across the country – fewer than 4 percent – are entitled to benefits, while the vast majority are denied eligibility.
Gila Oshrat, chairwoman of WIZO Israel, welcomed the approval of the “life-saving” amendment this week, since it allows battered women to “focus on the rehabilitation process” rather than on money issues.
“Staying in the shelter does not allow regularly going out to work and these women are faced with great economic distress,” she added.
“Unfortunately, almost half of them are choosing to leave the shelter during the first month partly because of economic difficulties,” Oshrat continued. “They neglect the therapeutic process and return to their abusive husbands.”
Oshrat added that it is the state’s responsibility to make sure economic considerations are not a barrier to women in exiting the cycle of violence, and called on Finance Minister Yair Lapid and the Knesset to advance the issue.
Lavie, who also heads the Committee on the Status of Women, added that the amendment “gives hope that the country is beginning to show sensitivity and responsibility for women and children in the worst situations.”
“Domestic violence is a national tragedy but not a predetermined destiny,” she said. “We must allocate resources and take advantage of all the means at our disposal to ensure that women will receive a real opportunity to recover and escape the cycle of violence.”
The Knesset is scheduled to hold a discussion on Monday on violence toward women and the problems in care services, law enforcement authorities and the justice system which increase women’s risk of being killed by their partners.
At the meeting, initiated by WIZO and Labor MK Merav Michaeli, a “revolutionary” draft law for dealing with violence in Israel is expected to be presented.
A senior US criminal judge of the domestic violence court in New York State will attend, and several women who have been affected by domestic violence are expected to testify.