1,000 protest in Tel Aviv over wave of violence toward women

Demonstrators demand government do more to tackle issue after 3 women killed by partners in past month

People protest against violence toward women at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
People protest against violence toward women at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

More than a thousand women demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Monday evening against the way the government and authorities have been handling domestic violence against women.

At the demonstration, held in the city’s Habima Square, protesters held up photos of Maya Vishnyak, 22, who was choked to death in the neighboring city of Ramat Gan over the weekend. Her partner was arrested as the suspect in the killing.

Protesters also carried signs reading “The blood of women is not worthless,” “We will not be silent” and “Where is the minister for murdered women?” — a reference to the freshly formed unity government, the largest cabinet in the country’s history with a large range of new ministerial positions.

“While we are alive, we have no backing, we have no support, we have no therapeutic framework, many [providers] of which have been closed,” protest organizers said in a statement. “There is no budget and no suitable resources. And there is no safety, neither in the streets nor at home.”

Organizers told media that what was originally planned to be a small candle-lighting memorial ceremony swelled into a much larger event.

A similar, smaller demonstration was held in Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem.

Demonstrators against violence to women hold up a photo of Maya Vishnyak, who was choked to death in a domestic violence incidence, as they participate in a rally at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Vishnyak was killed on Saturday in Ramat Gan. Her partner, who has not been named in media, was arrested and his remanded extended Monday by eight days.

According to reports, the suspect and his girlfriend got in an argument that escalated, during which he choked her to death. When his mother came in, he asked her to see what he had done, and when she attempted to call the police, he stabbed her.

The mother, 50, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries and Vishnyak was declared dead at the scene, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

Police and social service organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of the coronavirus crisis, which has been blamed for exacerbating tensions as people were confined together by lockdown measures.

Women’s rights activists have predicted that violence could grow even as restrictions are eased and urged the government to fund a plan drawn up to battle domestic violence that was approved in 2017.

Demonstrators protest against violence towards women at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

There have been several acts of serious violence against women by their partners in late April and early May.

On Friday, a Holon man was indicted for murdering his wife in their apartment in late April in front of their children. According to the indictment, Alaza Mandparo slashed Mastwell Mandparo to death after she refused to make him a cup of coffee.

On May 3, a man was arrested after calling police to tell them he had murdered his wife in their Bat Yam apartment. The man was believed to be intoxicated during the call. He had previously served time in prison for assaulting his wife. The couple have two young children.

Earlier in April a man stabbed his girlfriend at an Afula supermarket. He was arrested and confessed to the attack, which left his girlfriend hospitalized with moderate wounds. He explained to police that she had planned to leave him.

Thirteen Israeli women were murdered in 2019 by someone known to them. In 2018, 25 women were murdered in such incidents, the highest number in years, prompting a string of protests and urgent calls for authorities to take action against the increasing incidence of violence against women in Israel. Many of those women filed police complaints prior to their deaths out of concern for their safety.

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