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Domestic violence complaints increased by 10% this year, ministry data shows

Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen says action must be taken to ensure homes do not become ‘a trap of violence and fear for so many women and children’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Activists protest against recent cases of violence against women in Tel Aviv, on March 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Activists protest against recent cases of violence against women in Tel Aviv, on March 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Statistics published by the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry on Wednesday show an increase in calls to the ministry’s domestic violence hotline this year.

According to the figures, 7,977 calls were made through the end of October to the hotline, an increase of 10 percent over the same period last year. Of those calls, 4,382 were to report violence against a woman by her partner, 295 were to report violence against a man by his partner and 1,649 were to report violence against children.

The hotline, which can be reached by dialing 118, is available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and Amharic.

The figures were released ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is marked around the world on November 25.

“Domestic violence is a very difficult social phenomenon but it does not have to determine fate,” said Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen. “We have the ability as a society to act to prevent this phenomenon, to direct resources to treating those harmed and to provide victims with full protection and support.”

Cohen added that the issue is at the top of the ministry’s priorities, and noted that the recently passed 2022 state budget boosts funding for an inter-ministerial program on domestic violence to a record NIS 155 million ($50 million). “We will not accept a situation in which the home becomes a trap of violence and fear for so many women and children.”

The door to a Beersheba apartment where an 18-year-old woman was found dead, on November 13, 2021. (Screenshot/Ynet)

Earlier this week, WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization, published its own statistics on domestic violence ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

According to WIZO, 26 women in Israel were murdered in 2020, with 13 of them killed by their partners. That is a rise from 17 killed in 2019, with five of those killed by their partners. Four of the 13 women killed by their husbands or boyfriends in 2020, said WIZO, had filed police complaints about violence prior to their murders, and about half of them were known to social services.

So far in 2021, says WIZO, 20 women have been murdered in Israel. The most recent incident occurred over the weekend, when an 18-year-old woman in Beersheba was found dead in her apartment. Her boyfriend, who had recently been released from prison after serving a term for violence against the woman, was arrested and remanded into custody.

During 2020, according to WIZO, 20,140 domestic violence complaints were lodged with police, compared to 18,046 a year earlier, a rise of 12%.

Ora Korazim, the chair of WIZO Israel, said that violence against women peaked during the COVID crisis in Israel.

“The monstrous dimensions of the violence during the coronavirus crisis should be a wake-up call for society as a whole and the government in particular,” said Korazim. “The data reveals the lack of resources and strategy in dealing with the immense damage caused by the isolation and lockdowns on tens of thousands of women, who were imprisoned between the pandemic and the plague of violence.”

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