Murder in the family

Today is International Day Against Violence Against Women.

fischer family 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
fischer family 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
One sunny morning in the pastoral northern town of Tirat Hacarmel, Noga Gadi, a beautiful 30-year old woman was stabbed 32 times with a knife while in her own home, by none other than her husband. When he was questioned in court about his actions, the husband replied, "What's the big deal? It happens all the time in this country." Noga is one of 33 women who were murdered last year in Israel by their partners, spouses or other family members - a figure up from 13 women in 2004. The women range in age from 9 to 80, they come from all parts of Israel, and all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Violence against women cuts across all sectors of society in Israel, and is a problem that continues to be on the rise. While the murder of Ethiopian women has increased over the past two years, and the murder of Arab and Bedouin women is garnering public attention, it would be a mistake to think that this is a problem only in those communities. This year's events have special significance for Israeli Anglos as one of the most shocking and brutal murders of a Hila Fischer and her two babies was carried out by her husband, Michael Fischer, not only considered an "model citizen" and elite member of the Hod Hasharon police force, by apparently all who knew the family, but also the son of British immigrants. There is no profile of a wife murderer. The horrific phenomenon is unfortunately everywhere. The signs of domestic violence may be easy to miss. Women abused by their husbands are often educated and seem to lead normal lives, with neighbors so often claiming, "We had no idea." The Fisher's were described as "a perfect family" by their neighbors. But perfect families do not end up all dead. Killed by the man of the house. KNOW THE SIGNS. Superficial impressions are not enough to diagnose patterns of abuse. The signs are often subtle and can be mistaken for excessive doting or charm. A man who is charismatic (and controlling), who likes his wife to dress well for him (and tells her what to wear), who takes care of all the finances (and does not let her control money), who distances her from friends ("I'm all you need") - these are just some of the signs that all is not well in paradise. (See sidebar for more details). In acknowledgment of the International Day against Violence Against Women on November 25, Dr. Yael Levine composed a Prayer for Women Murdered by their Husbands, to be read in synagogues in order to raise awareness and alarm about this increasing trend. Unfortunately, Levine says, there is some objection to this among some men in the religious community who claim that the issue is "marginal" with only a "small number" of women affected by this. This is a false claim, and Levine finds the comment "distressing." According to Anat Gur of the Anima Clinic for Women's Psychological Health, "Violence against women has reached epidemic proportions." She cites the UNIFEM study according to which one out of three women around the world will be physically attacked by her partner in her lifetime. Israeli women may fare slightly better than women around the world, with an estimated one in seven women projected to be a victim of violence at home in her life. But even this number of one in seven should give us pause. Women in Israel continue to suffer physical violence for the sole reason that they are women, and this is not a problem that can or should be dismissed as marginal. Here are some more vital statistics about violence against women: 21%-34% of all women will be physically hurt by their partners or spouses The majority of women who are murdered are murdered by their partners or spouses. 14%-25% of teenage girls have been raped, including a large portion of girls with mental disabilities, as well as a large portion who were drugged using so-called date-rape drugs Over 80% of working women experience sexual harassment at the workplace at least once in her professional career Since the 1990s, Israel has become a hot spot for trafficking of women. It is estimated that there are one million (!) visits with prostitutes a month in Israel Since 2004, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of sexual attack, gang rape, and rape-incest In short, the greatest threat of external physical harm to women remains men women know intimately. Whereas men are most threatened by strangers, women are most threatened by the men at home. Praying is not enough. Know the signs. Teach your daughters. Watch out for your women friends. Here is a partial list of women (and their children) who were killed in Israel by the men in their lives since 2007:
  • Noga Gadi, 30, Tirat Hacarmel - suspect: husband Ilan Gadi
  • Natalia Shapiro, 25, Bat Yam - suspect: husband Hayim Valensko Shapiro
  • Galit Ratzabi, 25, Rehovot - suspect: ex-husband Rafael Ratazabi
  • Mazal Suleiman, 74, Jerusalem - suspect: ex-husband Nisim Suliman
  • Hamda Abu Jinam, 16, Ramle - suspect: brother Kamal Abu Jinam
  • Larisa Gumani, 53, Carmiel - suspect: stepbrother Sergei Gumani
  • Aya Papiashvili, 21, Ashdod - suspect: husband Henry Papiashvili
  • Miriam Kaufman, 67, Holon - suspect: husband Miron Kaufman
  • "Jane Doe", 27, Abu-Ghosh - suspect: husband
  • Esther Levine, 51, Ramat Gan - suspect: neighbor Asael Muabri
  • Miriam Barod, 80, Kfar Rama - suspect: son-in-law Elias Barod
  • Varda Barod, 59. Kfar Rama - suspect: husband Elias Barod
  • Alexandra Steiner, 24 - suspect: john or pimp
  • Orit Saltzman Bar Yosef, 33, Pri Gan - suspect: husband Dudu Bar Yosef
  • Yishai Mabrat Ababa, 27, Beer Sheva - suspect: husband Asatzlin Ababa
  • Valentina Dumbiev, 24 - suspect: husband Iad Shami
  • Lilly Tzoref, 65, Rehovot - suspect: husband Itzik Tzoref
  • "Jane Doe", 40, Givatayim - suspect: john or pimp
  • Fahima Perah, 82, Kfar Yasif - suspect: nephew Nabiya Perah
  • Kanu Gasasa, 29, Naharia - suspect: husband Babia Gasasa
  • Hiamanut Gasasa, 9, Naharia - suspect: father Babia Gasasa
  • Tchakula Tchakul, 45, Rishon L'zion - suspect: husband Parau Tchakul
  • Yaffa Rahabi, 47, Ariel - suspect: ex-husband
  • Hila Fischer, 30, Hod Hasharon - suspect: husband Michael Fischer
  • Yuval and Yarden Fischer, 3,1, Hod Hasharon - suspect: father Michael Fisher May their memories be blessed. May the women of Israel know no more sorrow. Dr. Sztokman is a writer, educator, researcher and activist.