On November 25th, WIZO marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, as established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, by shining a (red) spotlight on the issues of domestic and technological violence against women by their partners.
Israel Lights Up in Red
On Sunday night, the eve of The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, WIZO Israel initiated a campagin in which dozens of public buildings across the country were lit up in red to call attention to the vital issue of violence against women. The buildings included the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality building, the Sami Ofer Stadium in Haifa, the Beersheva municipality building, the Meitarim Bridge in Jerusalem and several other sites - including World WIZO's headquarters in Tel Aviv. Beyond just lighting up its city hall in red, the Tel Aviv municipality displayed the original clothing of women who were killed by their partners or spouses as part of an exhibit in the building's entrance hall.
The Tel Aviv Municipality
Meitarim Bridge Jerusalem
"This WIZO campaign aims to literally shine a spotlight on and raise public awareness of violence against women, eradicate the phenomenon, and for women to notice the 'red warning lights' - signs and behavioral patterns - that may indicate problematic and even dangerous behavior towards them from their partners," said WIZO Israel Chairperson Ora Korazim. "Violence against women is a broad societal problem which the entire public should battle, with no exceptions."
The Misuse of Technology for Violence Against Women
This year WIZO chose to focus on a very 21st century problem, technological violence, an issue which has become increasingly dominant and dangerous in recent years. Technological violence involves the misuse of technology to control, spy on or otherwise abuse women. Sadly, many women suffering from this form of violence do not recognize or define it as violence.
"On the one hand, technology provides us with additional tools for quickly identifying the offender and finding new evidence," said Ayelet Orenstein, Head of the Victims of Crime Division in the Israeli Police, "but on the other hand the technology allows for more ways to express the violence. Cooperation is needed so that we can prevent the next murder."
"Trapped in the (Inter)Net"- WIZO Israel's Poster for the Conference
WIZO's 2019 Campaign for Prevention of Violence Against Women: "It's Not Love, It's Violence"
For this year's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, WIZO launched a powerful campaign, focusing on technological violence.In the center of a video, a girl receives non-stop threatening messages from her partner, with each message reflecting a different technology platform through which her partner penetrates her privacy, threatens her and manages to control her behavior. The messages come in the form of email, WhatsApp, Instagram, text messages, until her partner takes full control over her email and social network accounts. The messages become increasingly aggressive and threatening, until the final message: "I see you now through your laptop's camera on the dresser. I'm coming to you now, don't move!". The campaign's closing message is: "It's not love, It's violence. Notice the red warning lights of technological violence."
Statistics from WIZO's Domestic Violence Index
Each year, in advance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, WIZO releases its Domestic Violence Index. The data was collected by WIZO from the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of Health, the courts system and the Israel police. According to this year's report, 13 Israeli women were murdered by family members since the start of 2019, including three in the last month.
The 13 Israeli women murdered in 2019 (Photo credit: YNet)
In 2018 there were 3,114 telephone calls related to domestic violence received by Israel's Ministry of Social Welfare's assistance telephone line - a 70% increase over the number of referrals in the previous year, which stood at 1,830.
WIZO also operates a telephone hotline for men caught in the cycle of domestic violence. Established six years ago, it is the only anonymous open hotline in Israel for these men. The hotline is operated soley by men, making the conversation more comfortable for the men calling who seek help.The hotline has also seen a drastic increases, with 1,000 calls being received in 2018, 100% more than last year.
WIZO's findings further show:
- 17 women have been murdered in Israel over the past year (12 months) - including 13 women so far this calendar year (2019)
- In the past 14 years, 163 women have been murdered by their partners , 50% of those victims were already known to the welfare authorities
- In Israel, 10,000 restraining orders are issued each year
- The police open an average of 60 domestic violence cases on a daily basis.
WIZO Israel Conference
WIZO Israel's Division for the Advancement of the Status of Women held its annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women conference on November 25th at Cinema City in Ramat Hasharon with a special focus this year on technological violence.
Opening remarks were delivered by Ora Korazim - Chairperson of WIZO Israel , Prof. Rivka Lazovsky - Chairperson of World WIZO, and Etti Attias - Chairperson of WIZO's Division for the Advancement of the Status of Women, who read out the names of all the women in Israel who had been murdered over the past year.
WIZO Israel Chairperson Ora Korazim (left) & World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky with memorial plaques bearing the names of each of the women murdered in Israel this year
One of the special guests at the conference was Israel's Education Minister, Rafi Peretz, who spoke about the role of education in curbing violence. "We pay an impossible price for violence against women. Something bad is happening in our culture, and it starts with education. We must continue to budget programs aimed at raising awareness and preventing violence."
Education Minister Rafi Peretz
WIZO Israel Chairperson Ora Korazim fully agreed with the Education Minister, "Domestic violence is not just a problem for women. This is a national social problem. The government must allocate all resources to eradicate it, starting with school age. We must encourage women to share and not keep quiet."
World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky stressed the startling statistics, "550 women are attacked in Israel every day by their spouses, 274 women are sexually harassed every day, 16 women are hospitalized every day as a result of their assault. Is this not an emergency?!," The state, with all its might, must eradicates the violence of women and make it a national priority."
Lily Ben-Ami Talks About the Brutal Murder of her Beloved Sister Michal Sela z"l
The most emotional portion of the conference was when Lily Ben-Ami took the stage and spoke about her younger sister Michal Sela z"l who was murdered by her husband just two months ago.
"My little sister Michal was murdered at the age of 32, She was a happy, carefree person. She connected people. She had a therapist's mind. She was murdered in front of her baby daughter, in her pajamas, stabbed 11 times. She was murdered by the man who was supposed to look after her safety. He's still alive and we (my family) can't wake up from this nightmare."
"There are two important messages I must convey to everyone: One - share, tell, don't keep it to yourself - if you are in doubt, there is no doubt. If this happened to us it could happen in any home. Michal suffered from quiet violence. He didn't raise a hand to her but he was jealous and obsessed. He deleted male friends from her Facebook account. People who studied with her, people who worked with her. You can also check if someone is taking over accounts. It's a red warning light for everything. Such a person cannot be left alone. Michal thought she could be safe with him. But you can't say goodbye, try to end a relationship on your own with such a person. We believe Michal tried to break up with him that night. There are domestic violence prevention centers and I encourage everyone to approach them before you make such a significant step. "
Lily Ben-Ami, sister of Michal Sela z"l
Photo Credits: Efrat Ben-Yosef, WIZO Israel