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Ynet News: During Coronavirus Crisis Public Turns to WIZO

World WIZO Chairperson Anita Friedman: "Since the beginning of the crisis, WIZO has helped and continues to help thousands of Israelis regain control of their lives."

March 31, 2020


From the Coronavirus Crisis to Family Crises - WIZO is There

Providing everything from advice regarding women's rights at work, to support for parents with kids at home due to school closures, to a hotline for men caught up in the cycle of domestic violence, WIZO provides telephone support for all.

By WIZO Marketing & PR Division  

MARCH 31, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is at its peak. Day care centers and schools are closed. Employees are either working from home or have been placed on unpaid work leave. Families must stay at home, with tensions mounting with each passing day. Where do you turn to for answers? Who can you call for support?

Fortunately, WIZO is there to provide guidance, support and practical tools to deal with this very challenging situation. 

Although WIZO has been forced to shut down most of its services, it is utilizing its experience and expertise to offer special services that benefit thousands of Israelis who have been thrown into sudden and severe distress. A prime example is WIZO's counseling and telephone hotlines, which have been diversified and expanded, knowing that so many more people will need help than ever before.:

Women's Rights at Work:

WIZO’s hotline for the rights of women in the workplace, which was launched 20 years ago, has had a 50% increase in calls, and the demand will surely increase as the crisis develops. The main issues affecting the callers are receiving wages in cases of inability to get to work (isolation, quarantine), unpaid leave from work, and workers' rights during emergencies in general.

"We have been receiving a lot of inquiries since the outbreak of the crisis from pregnant women, women on maternity leave and women in general, who are trying to understand their legal rights when it comes to work, work from home, compensation, unemployment benefits and more," says Ori Turkia-Shelas, head of legal assistance at WIZO Israel. "We are facing a lot of situations that are in the gray area in terms of the law. Our work is both at the micro-level in providing individual counseling for every woman who contacts us, and also at the macro level - in actions aimed at creating solutions vis-à-vis government agencies and employers' organizations.

Family Law:

In normal times, WIZO offers counseling in the area of family law in 30 legal bureaus around the country. During the crisis, WIZO is offering this service by phone.

Parental Counseling:

Since the closure of day care centers and schools in Israel, WIZO’s Parents Helpline has been flooded with calls seeking guidance and tools to deal with a variety of parental and family issues in the shadow of the Corona crisis. Hot topics include dealing with stress, behavioral changes, ways to spend time together and more.

"During "normal" periods we receive inquiries on various issues related to parent-child relationships such as setting boundaries, sibling quarrels, problems in diaper weaning, sleeping difficulties, etc." explains Nurit Yankelevich, director of WIZO's Parent's Helpline. "In an emergency, such as the one we are experiencing now, all routine problems are intensified and new behaviors previously unknown to parents are expected. In recent weeks, referrals we receive from parents focus on issues surrounding the Corona crisis, such as how to explain to children why they can't go to friends or visit their grandmother. Parents talk about children expressing fear or aggression, siblings quarreling and more. These problems are common to everyone and in many cases are related to the current situation. We are passing this message on to parents, because in many cases, simply understanding is soothing."

Parents who call the helpline receive individual counseling provided by volunteer educators and therapists professionals who are specially trained in WIZO. "Our counselors guide parents on how to deal with their children during the complex situation we are now in," says Yankelevich. "It is very important to recognize the children's feelings. Our counselors assist parents in coping with new behaviors the children exhibit at home by providing tools to deal with the situation, creating family resilience and more, in order to successfully get through the upcoming period."


"Your children won't stop fighting? Feel like you are at your wits' end?" - Advertisement for WIZO's Parents Helpline.

Domestic Violence:

WIZO’s Hotline for Men in the Cycle of Violence, which handles about 1,000 calls each year, puts WIZO at the forefront of dealing with men’s role in domestic violence. In times of crisis and distress, especially when families find themselves isolated at home, this service is even more acutely needed, and WIZO has greatly expanded the Helpline’s capacity and hours of service.

Established six years ago, the hotline provides counseling for men who are in distress and allows them to have an initial, accessible dialogue about the difficult feelings they have. The line thus serves as a mediating address for continuing professional care. The line is manned exclusively by male volunteers who have been trained by professionals. The call is completely anonymous.
"We are trying to change the public discourse in Israel and to implore men who are in the cycle of domestic violence, whether they are abusive or abused, not to remain alone with their pain and suffering, to call and receive assistance in order to escape the violence cycle, "says Avi Mor, Coordinator of the WIZO Men's Hotline.

"Men, by nature, find it difficult to seek help,"  Mor says. "There are more than 100 community violence treatment centers in Israel, but most men do not turn to them for assistance, only the women and family do. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, we have seen an increase in the number of men referred to the hotline. It is not only the men who call, but also women and their families who seek advice on how to get a man to call us.

Men often find themselves struggling with different forms of violence in the home. It is not uncommon for a man to call and say, "When I see my kids fighting, I can't control my anger and have to shut myself up in the room," or "I'm afraid I'll become a violent man", On the other hand, there are men who call about their wives, complaining of being victims of humiliation and verbal abuse, about being separated from their children. When they speak to our counselors, men feel they can talk openly. Our goal is to listen to them and give them the tools to cope with the situation, whether it is exercises to control their anger, directing them to domestic violence treatment centers, connecting them to a social worker in their city, and so on."

Can We Talk? The WIZO Men's Hotline Conference

WIZO Urges Citizens to Call for Support

""When families are isolated in their homes 24/7 for weeks, the intense stress can lead to chaos," says World WIZO Chairperson Anita Friedman. "Since the beginning of the current crisis, WIZO has helped, and continues to help, thousands of women, men and families regain control of their lives by offering completely anonymous telephone support to help everyone get through this emergency. Our counseling lines are free to the public and we have enlarged our support teams to meet the growth in demand. If you and your family need help, we urge you to call WIZO's hotlines. We are here for you."

To read the original Ynet News article, click the link:,7340,L-5704615,00.html