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Battered Women in Israel Suffer A Double Blow: Op-ed in Maariv by World WIZO Chairperson Anita Friedman

Battered women in Israel suffer a double blow: the first time by abusive men who believe they can behave cruelly to women without paying the price, and the second by long-standing national policies

November 25, 2020

מעריב אונליין- חדשות, עדכונים וכתבות מעניינות מהארץ ומהעולם

Ma'ariv Online – Opinion / November 25, 2020

Battered Women in Israel Suffer A Double Blow

by Anita Friedman, Chairperson of World WIZO

Translated by World WIZO staff


Photo Credit (for illustartion purposes only): WIZO Israel

Battered women in Israel suffer a double blow. The first time by abusive men, who believe that physical superiority gives them ownership over these women's lives and psyches. This is not a marginal phenomenon. Every year about 6,500 women are treated in the 113 centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence in the family that are operated by the Ministry of Welfare. They are only a small part of the hundreds of thousands of women in Israel who suffer daily from abuse and terror in their homes that have become fortresses.

As if this is not enough, the battered woman's suffering has only been exacerbated by the government's inaction in the face of domestic violence. The problem is the lack of synchronization between the various government agencies dealing with domestic violence such as the Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Homeland Security, Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Absorption. On top of this, they are all reliant on the Ministry of Finance (that allocates their budgets).

Anyone who is acquainted with the authorities in Israel knows that it is impossible to set in motion such a heavy and cumbersome vehicle, when each one of its wheels is turning in a different direction, and the various systems are not familiar with each other's operation.

When dealing with the Corona pandemic demanded the cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance, an independent national project coordinator was appointed to manage the crisis.  The epidemic of domestic violence, which has claimed many lives, is also begging for such authority, a project coordinator in the form of an inter-ministerial authority, but its pleas are being ignored.

In 2017, the Knesset Committee approved the National Program to Combat Domestic Violence, the cost of which was not determined, but was later estimated by the Ministry of Welfare at around a quarter-billion shekels a year. This quarter of a billion shekels is a per mille of the quarter-trillion shekels the state has lost due to the corona crisis.

The National Program was approved, everyone rejoiced but in the end, nothing materialized.  The additional budget allocation of NIS 50 million annually for a period of  five years, were transferred as follows: NIS 8 million in 2017, NIS 12 million in 2018, and NIS 9 million in 2019 - that is, a total of less than one-fifth of the amount approved. In 2019, in the end a supplementary budget of NIS 20 million was allocated but the funds remained in the coffers of the Treasury for many months. Only after the murder of Michal Sela and the social protest that broke that erupted in the aftermath, di the Finance Committee approve the transfer of these funds to the Ministry of Welfare. In total, in 2019 the government invested NIS 29 million in treating abusive, battered women, children in the cycle of domestic violence, hotlines, social workers, advocacy and more.

So yes, they are suffering a double blow, these battered women in Israel. For the first time by those men who believe they can behave cruelly to women without paying the price, and for the second time by long-standing national policies.

The author is the Chairperson of World WIZO.

See the original article in Hebrew here: