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Comptroller finds lacking funds, weak policy in drive against domestic violence

Report on local authorities shows that less than half the budget needed for government-backed plan was supplied during 2017-2020, no uniform definition of domestic violence

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at 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)

A report from the State Comptroller’s Office released Wednesday found that inadequate funding and chaotic policies for identifying and dealing with domestic violence are hampering efforts to curb the issue.

Domestic violence is “a severe social problem common among all classes, cultures, and ages,” wrote State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman in a statement accompanying the report that reviewed local authorities during 2020.

In 2019 five women were murdered by their partners while last year the figure jumped to 13, the report said.

The review examined how local welfare centers were dealing with domestic violence and found that a major hindrance was the lack of “a uniform, binding and comprehensive definition of the behaviors protected under the definition of violence between spouses.

Along with the absence of “an up-to-date database on spousal violence, the ability to deal with this phenomenon is impaired,” the comptroller said.

Funding was also found to be problematic. Between 2017 and 2019 just NIS 128 million was budgeted out of NIS 300 million estimated as needed to implement the national plan against domestic violence, even though the government has embraced the scheme.

“As a result, dealing with the phenomenon remains partial and is accompanied by temporary solutions,” the comptroller said.

The Welfare Ministery and the National Authority for Community Safety budgets for preventative actions are only 1.4% of what is spent on actually dealing with the results of domestic violence by jailing offenders or providing shelter for women at risk. The Welfare Ministry also has no regular policy on locating families at risk of domestic violence via local authorities’ social services centers.

“It is recommended that dealings with the issue be carried out in cooperation between all the bodies operating in the field, from a systemic perspective in order to eradicate the phenomenon of violence between spouses, which causes immediate and long-term damage to both the individual and the community,” Englman advised.

During the period of the COVID-19 outbreak a notable rise in domestic violence was recorded, the report said.

A police car at the site of a suspected domestic violence murder of a woman in Haifa, May 1, 2021. (Israel Police)

In May last year, after the country had entered a period of restrictions on public life and lockdowns that saw hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs, there was an 800% rise in reported cases of domestic violence compared to the same month in 2019.

The report came the same day that a mother of four was shot dead in her home in Haifa.

Domestic violence, and in particular violence against women has gained increasing public attention with several protests held over the last year demanding the government do more to address the issues.

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