Domestic abuse reports to WhatsApp hotline spike by 95% amid COVID-19

Published date24 November 2020
Date24 November 2020
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
These staggering numbers surface on the backdrop of 20 women who have been murdered in acts of domestic violence this year across the country. Despite the staggering numbers, two-thirds of sexual assault cases were closed by the judiciary wing due to lack of evidence.

The Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality in the Knesset announced on Monday that sexual abuse cases rose by 33% throughout the country amid the coronavirus, with 62% of cases being against minors.

In honor of the internationally-recognized day dedicated to eliminating domestic abuse, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, in partnership with the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), will submit a bill for approval in the Knesset, which deems that men who have a restraining order against them due to domestic violence will be required to seek treatment. Until now, a judge may only consider treatment after choosing to evaluate the perpetrator, an option that was seldom used.

The law would require the judge to order the defendant to have a violence evaluation done, which would assess the possibility of treatment based on suitability. In the case of Wafa Abahara, who was murdered last week by her ex-husband – and he has still not been caught by police – if the judge had considered the option of giving him treatment when she had initially filed a restraining order, he may not have murdered her as he has allegedly done.

"We want an initiative in the Knesset to send men to therapy," Anita Friedman, chairwoman of World WIZO, told The Jerusalem Post. "This is a societal problem; it's not a women's issue. Unless we change the way that we see this and take care of it the way it should be taken care of, we cannot see it changing."

EMOTIONAL TREATMENT for violent men has proven to be a successful tactic for combating violent tendencies, according to a study published in 2018 by WIZO and Bar-Ilan University. Since then, a number of women's organizations in Israel have offered treatment for men with such tendencies, but such things may only be accessed voluntarily – that is, unless Touma-Sliman's proposed bill passes into law.

"Violence against women is not just a criminal matter, but a social and psychological one," Touma-Sliman said. "It's time to understand the treatment of violent men as an integral part of the fight against violence – because treated men are less dangerous men."

In light of the growing number of domestic and sexual abuse cases, 45 MKs signed a letter to...

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