There seems to be no end to how this new government can find ways to disappoint the Israeli public. One of its many criticisms is the lack of female representation. With women making up only 19% of the current cabinet, Israel has drastically dropped the number of female representatives in government.
In addition, two parties in the current coalition, United Torah Judaism and Shas, officially banned women in their parties. One would hope that when it comes down to it, the government could still advance life for women in Israel but that would be a pipe dream.
On March 22, the Israeli government rejected a bill that would have allowed the courts to order the use of electronic tags to monitor abusers of domestic violence.
The bill would allow electronic tracking of convicted domestic violence offenders and passed its first reading unanimously in the previous coalition. Last Wednesday, MKs Gideon Sa’ar, Merav Michaeli, Naama Lazimi and Merav Ben Ari (politicians from the Left, Center and Center-Right) proposed the law to Knesset.
In a disappointing move, the bill was defeated by a vote of 60-59. The deepest disappointment is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself voted against the bill.
In a symbolic move against the bill’s defeat, opposition female MKs brandished electronic bracelets, emphasizing the urgency of preventing domestic violence and avoiding the needless loss of women’s lives.
Domestic abuse is a growing issue
The issue of domestic abuse has become a growing issue that Israel has yet to tackle. Just last week, the police arrested a Haifa resident on Friday on suspicion of killing his wife, a mother of three children. The victim, Darya Leitel, had reportedly expressed concerns about threats from her husband before the incident. Her tragic death marks the fifth case of femicide in Israel since the beginning of this year.
Despite efforts by several female members of the governing coalition to persuade National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to allow the bill to pass its first reading, he declined, stating that a more equitable version of the law would be proposed within a month. Many female MK members were upset, with some even leaving in tears after voting against the bill. According to anonymous sources within the Likud party quoted by the Walla news service, members expressed concerns about blindly following the whims of Ben-Gvir and voting against their conscience.
THE REJECTION of the bill sparked outrage among advocates for victims of domestic violence, who called on the government to take stronger action to protect women from abuse. Supporters of the bill argued that electronic tags would provide an effective tool to prevent abusers from coming near their victims.
According to data from the Israel Police, there were 20,326 cases of physical violence and threats between spouses opened by the Israel Police in 2020, with 87% of the victims being women. The outbreak of COVID in 2020 contributed to these numbers, as numerous women have been forced to confront violent partners while confined to their homes. The incidence of physical violence and threats between spouses has increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020.
During the Knesset meeting, Ben-Gvir led the charge against the bill, arguing that it was unfair to men and needed to be adjusted to safeguard their rights against women filing complaints with no basis. Ben-Gvir stated that “It is important to prevent the possibility of false complaints, which results in harm to innocent men and also to women and their credibility.”
It is important to note that false reports of domestic abuse, while they do occur, are relatively rare compared to the number of legitimate reports of domestic violence. There is limited data available on false allegations of domestic violence but global researchers concur that actual physical attacks are significantly more prevalent than false accusations. A more significant issue is unreported incidents of violence, which are not listed in official records.
While Ben-Gvir reiterated on Twitter that they plan to bring a governmental bill that was many times better in a month, many are skeptical, as these bills have already been delayed. According to The Jerusalem Post, the law cannot be proposed again as a private bill for six months.
Furthermore, the initial version of the proposed law mandated geolocation technology to guarantee that a judge-deemed dangerous offender stays away from a specific distance as specified in a restraining order. This means that the law would apply to those already convicted of violence and all it does is prevent them from violating the restraining order.
Contrary to Ben-Gvir’s claims, this law had been in the works for months and had garnered approval from all pertinent entities. Ben-Gvir has shown that the safety of Israeli women is not a priority.
The writer is a social media activist with over 10 years of experience working for Israeli, Jewish and cause-based NGOs. She is the co-founder and the COO of Social Lite Creative, a digital marketing firm specializing in geopolitics.