The government’s plan to fight domestic violence has yet to receive a budget despite promises when the plan was approved a year ago to earmark to it 250 million shekels ($67 million) over a five year period. Due to the delay in funding, the Knesset Research and Information Center has stated that it is impossible to gauge how much of the plan will be implemented in the coming years. The center gathered data on behalf of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.
The plan was approved in July 2017, three years after an inter-ministerial committee was established to battle Israel’s growing domestic-violence problem.
The Finance Ministry said the cabinet’s decision was about adopting the plan in principle without going into budgetary details. Thus, the decision did not require the earmarking of a budget, the ministry said. “In the absence of data we cannot check whether the program was funded in accordance with the presented plan, and whether any budget was used for the program in 2017 and 2018,” the Knesset Research and Information Center said. “In the past year the cabinet has approved cuts to government ministries for 2018 and 2019, so we must examine whether these cuts affect the funding for this program.”
The plan had called for 47 million shekels to be allotted in 2018 for efforts including an increase in the number of social workers, police stations and domestic-violence investigators. However, according to the research center, a much smaller sum has been allotted, though it is unclear how much.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, was highly critical during a committee debate when the Finance Ministry said 30 million shekels would not be budgeted for the program in 2019; instead, that sum would be spread out over three years. “This is a huge scandal. One moment they say they’re going to give the Social Affairs Ministry another 30 million shekels in 2019, and then it turns out that this is an cumulative 30 million [over three years],” Touma-Sliman said. “This demonstrates how cabinet ministers are making a mockery of the issue of women being murdered,” she said, adding that she would demand a commission of inquiry “and that the ministers should know they bear responsibility for the next murder that happens.”
The research center has also found that 35 women were killed by their spouses in 2016 and 2017. Seventeen of them had already complained to the police about violence. In 2017, 17,587 police files were opened over domestic-violence incidents, including 26 cases of murder or attempted murder, 300 sexual assaults, 7,700 other assaults and 7,600 threats.
As part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which will take place on next Sunday, November 25, demonstrations will be held in Haifa today, Thursday the 22nd, in Jerusalem on Saturday the 24th, and in Tel Aviv on Sunday.