Eradicating violence against women requires revolutionary reforms

While our ancestors believed that the people of Israel are the “enlightened,” the recent worrying increase in violence, rape and murder of women across the country proves otherwise.

Throughout the week leading up to November 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the media, politicians and activists have paid an unprecedented level of attention to the issue.

And while attention and exposure are important, the topic needs to be discussed much more regularly, and a miserable year-round week just isn’t enough.

This horrendous phenomenon of violence against women must be dealt with and treated on a daily basis.

Girls, adolescent girls and adult women have been exposed to violence, either within their own families, from which many simply cannot escape on their own, or in the rest of the world.

A prominent case that brought the issue to the center of public attention earlier this year was the case of Shira Isakov, who survived the assassination attempt at the hands of her husband, Aviad Moshe, thanks to her own resistance as well as to her neighbor Adi. Guzi, who rushed to save the woman when she heard the screams coming from her home.

Another case is the horrific murder of 17-year-old Yael Malnik, who was killed by an orderly at the shelter where she lived.

Since early 2021, at least 21 women have been killed by their spouse or partner. Most of their names have been forgotten by the public.

The same is true of the majority of victims of sexual violence, many of whom find themselves at the mercy of wealthy and powerful superiors, who believe they can simply ignore or even destroy any evidence of misconduct.

In 1994, when my then fellow MP Yael Dayan and I formed a parliamentary inquiry on the issue, the number of women murdered by their partners was practically the same as it is today.

This means only one thing: nothing has changed in the last 26 years despite the various associations formed, the shelters built, the politicians promising to eradicate the problem, the media coverage or the various campaigns aimed at raising awareness.

But we can also point to some positive changes. In 1994, the Knesset had only 11 female deputies and only two female ministers. Today the government has nine cabinet ministers and no fewer than 36 female legislators.

The current government even allocated funds from the state budget for 2021-2022 to finally implement the national program for the eradication of violence against women, a plan previously approved in 2017 by the Netanyahu administration, which did not consider it appropriate to allocate resources for its current implementation.

And while this bodes well, it is not enough.

All the traditional tools that we have used so far to protect women, both young and old, need to be re-examined.

Does our society offer adequate protection to women who suffered violence? Is it really the correct solution to kidnap them in shelters for a year or two? Does the state provide thorough and satisfying treatment for violent men?

The recent wave of violence is a wake-up call for all deputies and ministers in our Knesset, whether they are men or women.

The problem is a statewide problem that is not limited to just one gender.

Very little has changed. The prevailing problem of violence against women requires nothing less than a reform revolution, and as soon as possible.

Limor Livnat is a former MP and Likud Minister

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