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WIZO head: Shira Isakov is just one case

CM 02/09/2021

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“We just saw Shira Isakov’s court decision, and we’re very happy with the results, but this is just one case,” World Women’s International Zionist Organization (World WIZO) head Anita Friedman told The Jerusalem Post one week after Aviad Moshe, Isakov’s ex-husband, was convicted in a court of law for the attempted murder of Isakov.
Friedman, who had been working to advance WIZO’s work for over 20 years, said that violence in the family is a “silent pandemic” which has only grown worse – and, as a result, reached public awareness – with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It crosses all socioeconomic layers, it crosses all religions, it happens everywhere,” she said of domestic abuse. “The State of Israel has been a little bit slow in responding to this.”
She explained that the coronavirus pandemic functioned as a sort of pressure cooker for abuse, raising the number of women “under the cloud of violence” to approximately 200,000 and the number of children to 600,000.
“We at WIZO view this, not as a women’s issue, but as a societal issue,” she explained. “The message is that it’s everybody’s business. If you hear your neighbors fighting, intervene, find out what’s happening, and call the police. We have a few ways of dealing with it. Education is the key issue. If we do not educate our children when they’re young on zero tolerance to violence… nothing is going to happen.”
As an example, she told of the WIZO program “Mine and Only Mine,” which teaches teens to identify the warning signs in relationships that may indicate an unhealthy tendency.
In addition, Friedman explained that treatment for violent men is equally important. “We have a hotline for violent men,” she said. “Violent men or those on the verge of violence call, and we attempt to bring them to therapy. A lot of people say, ‘Why should women be incarcerated in shelters? Why shouldn’t the men be removed?’ We are looking at solutions for that.”
On the other hand, she said that the different governmental ministries need to form some sort of synergy on the subject of domestic abuse.
“Violence in the family is treated in different offices,” she stated. “When a woman has to go to the emergency room, they call the social worker, they call the police and the system starts working. We find that even these professional people do not know how to relate and how to take care of these cases.
“First and foremost, we call on the government to create an [overarching] that takes care of synchronizing between the police, between the social workers and between the hospitals.
“Sometimes, the police and other first responders victimize the woman a second time because they don’t treat her the way she should be treated.”
She further said that organizations such as WIZO “call on the government to legislate in such a way that deters perpetrators and once these perpetrators are caught, they get the right punishment,” adding that Israel’s not there just yet.
She additionally told of the funding issue that organizations such as WIZO currently face. They work primarily off of funds provided through philanthropy rather than receiving government funds to care for victims and treat such families.
“When women get out of our shelters, nobody supports them, nobody does,” she said. “That’s why we have a program called Safety Net, where these women, after they come out of the shelter, they have a job, they have school for their children. We developed this during the pandemic because the first people to lose their jobs were these women. The moment they can’t take care of themselves, there’s a big risk that they’ll go back to their abusers.”
But Friedman doesn’t see domestic abuse as the only societal issue of violence; she added that sexual violence is an issue of the same impact. She explained that it all has to do with “the way we educate our kids, gender awareness, the messages the children receive. At the end of the day, it also comes down to the judicial system. It’s not stern enough to make sure these people receive the punishment that they should receive. It’s a bigger problem than just making strides.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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