Welfare Ministry says calls to abuse hotline rose 160% in five years
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Welfare Ministry says calls to abuse hotline rose 160% in five years

682 women and 1,011 children were treated in 13 shelters for victims of sexual violence over the course of 2018

ILLUSTRATIVE- A victim of child sexual abuse. (Sam Thomas/iStock)
ILLUSTRATIVE- A victim of child sexual abuse. (Sam Thomas/iStock)

The number of reported cases of domestic abuse in Israel has surged in recent years, the Welfare Ministry reported on Sunday in its 2018 report on intimate partner violence.

According to the ministry, the number of women calling its abuse hotline rose by 160 percent between 2014 and 2018 and more than 6,000 victims of domestic violence received treatment last year. One thousand two hundred and nineteen women called the hotline to report spousal abuse in 2018.

The new statistics come only days after social worker Michal Sela, 32, was found stabbed to death, allegedly by her husband, in their home in the Jerusalem suburb of Motza on early Friday morning.

According to the ministry report, 163 women have been murdered by their husbands since 2004. Seven women were killed in 2018, down from nine in 2017, 11 in 2016, 12 in 2015 and 10 in both 2013 and 2014.

A quarter of those killed during that time period were new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 20% were immigrants from Ethiopia, 20% were Arabs and 34% were Jewish women born in Israel.

The numbers do not count people killed in domestic-violence related incidents by people other than their husbands. In 2018, 25 women were killed in domestic-violence related incidents.

Six hundred and eighty-two women and 1,011 children were treated in 13 shelters for victims of sexual violence over the course of 2018. Of those treated in shelters, 80% experienced abuse for a period lasting between one and 10 years. In total, domestic violence prevention centers treated 6,488 victims and more than 2,400 violent men last year.

Twenty percent of those staying in shelters are under 25 years old. Forty-five percent of Jewish women in the shelters were secular, while 20% are ultra-Orthodox.

“As we provide services and develop innovative solutions, with vital collaboration with other systems and offices, we are seeing an increase in the number of referrals for assistance,” ministry director for social and individual welfare services Ayala Meir said in a statement.

“Domestic violence is one of the most serious social phenomena, and it is very difficult to ask for help or report it [because of issues of] confidentiality and shame, and sometimes even lack of awareness of the problem.”

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