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Demonstrators in Tel Aviv protest violence against women at a rally last night, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. .(Photo by: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Thousands march in Tel Aviv to protest violence against women
Protesters chanted “We won’t be silent anymore,” “No means no,” and “We are not transparent – women make revolutions.”
Some 2,000 demonstrators marched to protest violence against women, at an annual rally on Sunday night held in Tel Aviv to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Participants, wearing pink hats as a symbol of protest against violence against women, marched from Rabin Square to the Cinematheque Plaza where the rally took place.

The hats were in the style of the Pussyhat Project hats that were launched on November 2016 to mark the Women’s March on Washington.

Protesters chanted “We won’t be silent anymore,” “No means no,” and “We are not transparent – women make revolutions.”

Speaking at the rally, Miriam Scheller, director of the Tel Aviv Assistance Center, said: “We call for an end to the reality in which more and more women are raising their voices, but the authorities refuse to listen.”

She said they will continue to fight to change a reality in which nine out of 10 rape cases are closed without an indictment; in which girls who have been assaulted are forced to leave school; and in which sexual offenses are treated as gossip – “a reality in which they talk about security, but that doesn’t include our security. We will continue to work to change the priorities until we put an end to rape culture,” she said.

Event organizers noted than one of the 22 women murdered this year was killed just last week, the same week the coalition voted against a bill to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the phenomenon of murder of women in Israel.

The rejection of the bill was raised during a visit made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to a battered women’s shelter earlier Sunday. During their meeting, one of the women pointed out that Netanyahu opposed the bill, after he remarked that he hadn’t followed it. Netanyahu responded by saying the bill probably didn’t pass because it was an opposition bill.

Sara Netanyahu subsequently scolded her husband by saying, “This really shouldn’t be a matter of coalition and opposition. This is everyone’s shared issue.”

In a statement released following the meeting, the prime minister said: “When talking with these women I discovered something that amazed me. Woman after woman after woman – I discovered that we are making great efforts, and there will be even greater efforts, to treat these women in the shelters and afterwards... but I discovered that we are doing almost nothing to those who are generating this crime. It’s like dealing with terror, and this is terror for all intents and purposes, but not dealing with the terrorists.”

Enforcement, deterrence, punishment and justice are what Netanyahu said is lacking. “Something is wrong here. We need to come up with a plan which does not only address the victims but also the perpetrators.”

In response to Netanyahu’s statement, MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) who heads the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women: “The prime minister finally found a few minutes of his time to address the epidemic of violence against women.”

“The prime minister’s statements are proof that the issue was simply not on his agenda. Mr. Netanyahu said, ‘Something here is lacking,’ and he himself voted last week together with the coalition against my proposal to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate the failures and omissions in defending women,” she continued.

“Did you know, prime minister, that there is already this ministerial committee? Did you know that there is a plan of action approved by the ministers only that it is not budgeted? We women are not election propaganda! You will not bury the subject in the procedure and build new plans that will be dependent on the prevailing political mood. In the meantime, women are paying with their lives. It is necessary to immediately provide full funding for the existing national program!”

Meretz leader MK Tamar Zandberg said at the rally: “They tell us it’s not political, but when public officials reject a motion in the Knesset against the war against the murder of women, it cannot be said that it is not political. The allocation of resources is political.... We demand that the government take responsibility.”

The event was organized by several women’s organizations including the Tel Aviv Women’s Crisis Support Center; the Israel Women’s Network; the Feminine Spirit; Na’amat and the Women’s Counseling Center; and was supported by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality.

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