The government is dragging its feet in advancing a national program to significantly decrease domestic violence. The ministerial committee for domestic violence has repeatedly put off authorizing the program, which it received four months ago. During these months, three women have been murdered, ostensibly by their husbands or partners.
In response to the government’s inaction, Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), head of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women, has said: “The conclusions and recommendations were submitted to the ministerial committee four months ago, but the government is delaying their implementation. The delays in budgeting the implementing of such an important program only prove the urgent need for a state authority to fight domestic violence.”
Most of the committee’s conclusions and recommendations were submitted to the ministerial committee for domestic violence in November 2015. Among its proposals to create a program to prevent wife battering and other kinds of domestic violence, the inter-ministerial committee calls for keeping violent men away from their families or partners, and for supervising the enforcement of such orders by requiring a known batterer to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that would disclose any infraction. The proposed program also calls for posting a social worker in every police station as well as the rehabilitation of violent men and the setting up of shelters for pregnant teenagers.
Today, there are some 200,000 battered women living in Israel. Since the inter-ministerial committee to deal with domestic violence was set up in November 2014, more than 40 such women have been murdered by their spouses. However, a disagreement between two ministries, Public Security versus Welfare and Social Services, each of which wants to head the program’s implementation team, has delayed the program’s execution. The ministerial committee for domestic violence, headed up by the Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, was supposed to have met this week to discuss the lower committee’s recommendations, but the meeting was postponed for undisclosed reasons. Thus, even though the inter-ministerial committee completed what the cabinet deemed its “urgent” work and passed on its final remaining conclusions and recommendations four months ago, the ministers involved in the decision making process, apparently in no great hurry, still seem more interested in waging a turf war to determine whose ministry is going to be in charge: Public Security of Erdan or Welfare and Social Services under the tutelage of his Likud colleague Haim Katz.
In this context, and nearly a year and a half after the inter-ministerial committee submitted most of its recommendations to the ministers, MK Touma-Suliman’s stresses the importance of setting up an independent state authority to focus on this task, one which could act without having to comply with the specific interests of some ministry or other in charge.