What should we be talking about this Mother's Day? - comment

A discussion of some of the issues that affect mothers in Israel today.

A girl hugs her mother before entering her elementary school in Sderot as it reopens following the ease of restrictions preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
A girl hugs her mother before entering her elementary school in Sderot as it reopens following the ease of restrictions preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in the US and many other countries on Sunday (Israel marks the day in February) is a time for us to show the moms in our lives love and appreciation. What better way to do so than to dedicate some time to thinking about some of the issues that affect mothers in Israel today?
Many mothers don’t know if they can safely send their children to school
With more than a quarter (28.7%) of victims of sexual offenses reported in 2019 to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI) being under the age of 13 (and 62% under age 18), most Israeli mothers don’t have the basic knowledge that their children are safe when they send them out into the world.
Some 7.6% of offenses reported to the ARCCI in 2019 occurred in Israel’s education system and yet it does not do enough to teach about healthy sexuality and safety, CEO Orit Sulitzeanu told The Jerusalem Post in March.
Just last week, a court sentenced Shne’or Landau, a 30-year-old man convicted of indecent acts towards 17 minors between the ages of six and nine in an elementary school, to a prison sentence of just one year.
There have also been multiple recent reports of abuse in Israel’s kindergartens.
In April, parents protested outside the home of a kindergarten teacher suspected of abuse after she was released to house arrest.
“The parents will burn the state until the system returns to fulfill its role in protecting the children of Israel, because they are currently being abandoned,” a protester and a parent told one of the children allegedly abused.

Mothers do not have appropriate legal recourse when their children are harmed

Landau was initially sentenced to just a year’s probation, seven months of community service and compensatory fines. Only after his sentencing was appealed by the prosecution was it extended to a year in prison.
Yarin Sherf, now charged with the rape of a 13-year-old girl, was charged in March with consensual forbidden sexual relations along with other offenses including sexual harassment, threats and assault. This led many to question how a 13-year-old could consent when she was allegedly being harassed, threatened and assaulted.
Only after widespread public pressure and protests did the prosecution change the charge to rape.
Courts that handle sexual offenses specifically could possibly help reduce inappropriate handling of cases, Sulitzeanu said.
Mother’s must choose between motherhood and financial independence
The “motherhood tax” refers to the drop in salary mothers experience for every child that they have. This tax is so significant that women with two children make on average 15% less than women with no children, according to Globes.
A 2018 report found that women in Israel’s public sector experience this drop in salary while men’s salaries tend to go up as they have kids, TheMarker reported.
This all leads to women with pension funds 40% smaller than those of men and much higher chances of living out their old-age in poverty, making many dependent on their partners’ salaries, according to feminist news site Politically Correct.
Many mothers want a divorce and are being refused one
Reports on the number of women in Israel currently being refused a get (Jewish divorce document) vary widely. Mavoi Satum (dead end), an organization that aids these women, reported that there are thousands in Israel today.
This week, Rabbinical courts refused to force a man to grant his wife a get, despite the criminal convictions he faces for threatening her life, the Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ) reported.
The woman has been separated from her husband for over three years and living in a domestic violence shelter. Despite this, the court did not demand she be given a get, CWJ said.
Some 19% of women reported that they were refused a get at some point in their divorce process and 7% reported giving up on getting divorced, according to a 2005 Knesset report that cited a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev survey.
Mothers and wives in Israel are being abused and murdered
Some 25 women in Israel were killed by a partner or someone close to them in 2020 – and more than four Israeli women have been killed by a partner or family member so far this year.
“The plan to combat domestic violence from 2017 has not yet been implemented and hundreds of thousands of women in Israel live in daily and incessant terror,” said Na’amat chairwoman Hagit Pe’er in reaction to the suspected murder of a woman in Haifa last week.
According to government data, a third of women killed by their partners in 2018 and 2019 had previously filed police complaints against the men accused of killing them. Six of the suspects in such murders between 2018 and 2020 had previous convictions related to domestic violence.
Government data also shows that 30,000 cases of domestic violence were opened by the police between 2018 and 2019, and the number of domestic violence cases has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shira Silkoff, Yardena Schwartz/JTA and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.