Hebrew University students protest violence against women

People take part in a protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv on June 17, 2017. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A group of 100 students from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University held a protest calling on the government to take stronger action in dealing with violence against women. The protest was held last month following a wave of murders in which 16 women were killed in the first half of this year alone. A similar protest took place in Tel Aviv on June 17.

As of 2014 there were reportedly some 200,000 battered women in Israel. According to police data, 128 women have been killed by their spouses since 2011.

Hebrew University’s Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology, spoke at the protest.

“When we hear in the media about the murder of women, they often say that it was ‘a romantic issue,’ or a murder ‘against the background of the family’s dignity,’ in Arab society,” she said. “These expressions are degrading. When they are used, it detracts from the magnitude of these horrific incidents.”

Stav Piltz, an organizer of the Hebrew University protest, told The Jerusalem Post, that in many cases police ignore the women’s requests for help.

“We condemn the helplessness of the police and of the establishment when it comes to violence against women,” she said. “We often hear that cases are being treated without the proper attention and that abusive husbands are still walking freely.”

In what was a highly disappointing result for activists, on June 18 the Ministerial Committee for Legislation pushed back a vote on a proposal that would enable courts to place electronic tags on suspects of domestic violence, thus continually monitoring them and protecting their victims. The Finance Ministry said the initiative must be delayed due to financial concerns.

“Petty political fights are being fought at the expense of women who are in danger,” said Knesset Member Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid), who put forward the proposal.

Nevertheless, the Ministerial Committee for Combating Domestic Violence has approved a five-year national plan to tackle the problem. At a cost of an estimated 250 million shekels, the plan includes opening regional assistance centers, a 24-hour hotline for threatened women and new “family departments” in 15 police stations across the country.

A study released in 2016 by the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed that some 40 percent of Israeli women between 16 to 48 years old have suffered physical or psychological violence from their partners.

Among the Arab women surveyed 11 percent reported physical violence and 50 percent reported psychological or verbal violence. Among the Jewish women surveyed, 2 percent reported physical violence and 19 percent reported verbal or psychological violence.