Welfare Ministry: 4 suicides due to domestic violence amid coronavirus crisis

Special Knesset committee hears of 20% spike in violent incidents; chair urges women to escape from the ‘trap’ of abuse during lockdown

Police investigators at the scene of the fatal stabbing of a woman by her husband in Holon, April 28, 2020. (Israel Police)
Police investigators at the scene of the fatal stabbing of a woman by her husband in Holon, April 28, 2020. (Israel Police)

The Welfare and Social Services Ministry on Sunday reported that there have been four incidents of suicide due to domestic violence since the start of lockdown orders aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak.

Two men and two women have taken their own lives since limitations on time spent outside the home and travel were introduced in March, the Welfare Ministry’s national superintendent for domestic violence, Hagai Moyal, said.

Moyal told the Knesset Special Committee for Welfare and Labor that there has recently been a 20 percent increase in domestic violence.

Committee Chair MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) said that the restrictions on movement imposed on the public meant that women in danger of domestic violence were being forced into “a trap” that confines them with those who pose the biggest danger to them.

Touma-Sliman sent a message to any women who may be in danger, urging them, “Don’t stay in a home where there is violence.”

Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset, June 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90/File)

Touma-Sliman criticized the Welfare Ministry for the limitations of its recently launched campaign to rehabilitate women who escape domestic violence, as it is currently available only in Hebrew, and not in Arabic or Amharic, the language spoken by many Ethiopian Israelis.

Moyal reported that additional languages will be added to the campaign in the coming days.

Three women have been killed in domestic violence incidents in recent weeks.

Last week, a man confessed to stabbing his wife to death in Holon. The couple had a history of domestic violence.

Earlier this month, a 45-year-old woman was shot dead by an intruder in front of her husband in their Lod home. A police investigation led to the arrest of a family member. In March, a woman was killed in Rishon Lezion, with police assessing that her husband shot her and then tried to commit suicide.

Last Wednesday, the Welfare Ministry said that during the preceding two weeks, there were four times as many complaints about domestic violence as there were during the first month of lockdown, Haaretz reported.

During the 12 days from April 16 until last Monday, the national domestic violence helpline received 400 complaints, an average of more than 33 every day. During the month from March 15 until April 15 there were a total 244 complaints received, an average of eight complaints a day.

In response to the spike, the ministry opened a new method of contacting the helpline via text message, intended for those who are unable to speak privately, the newspaper reported.

Israel has begun lifting some of the lockdown restrictions that saw citizens confined to their homes and only permitted outside for essential needs, to attend critical jobs, or for short walks. There have been 16,193 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in the country, with 231 deaths.

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