Dozens of women protested in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday as [art of a buildup to a planned nationwide strike to protest against violence against women and to call on the government to transfer NIS 250 million ($67 million) it has promised for an emergency program prevent violence against women.
The demonstration was organized by the Red Flag Coalition, an umbrella group of some 100 feminist organizations from all sectors of Israeli society, that has called the strike for Tuesday with a a mass gathering in Tel Aviv planned for the same evening.
“The coalition declared a state of emergency last week which means that we decided we will change the agenda of our government. We demand a fundamental change in policy and significant actions to eliminate gender-based violence,” social entrepreneur Anat Nir, one of the leaders of the Red Flag Coalition, told TPS. “The gathering in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, will be the beginning of the protest, and not the end. We won’t stop until women will not feel safe in this country, we are fed up,” she said.
The Red Flag Coalition has created a Facebook page titled “State of Emergency “ (Matzav Herum ). “Gender-based violence has reached unprecedented heights in Israel,” the page states. “Women throughout the country pay with their lives and are squeezed between failed government decisions and petty political games. No matter where we are – in the street, at work, at home – we are at risk and in the struggle for our lives. We refuse to accept this reality. This violence is not a natural phenomenon, but simply the result of an ongoing policy of oppression, discrimination, and exclusion. This is the time to embark on a rage revolution that will not fade until we change this policy.”
The Tel Aviv and Haifa municipalities, the Hof Ha’Carmel regional council and some private companies said they will be supporting the strike, closing the offices for few hours during the day and letting the workers debate the issue.
According to Wizo’s annual report on domestic violence, published last month ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 22 women have been murdered in Israel so far this year – two more, both teen agers, were murdered a few days after the report was published. 16-year-old Yara Ayub was found dead in the village of Jish, in Upper Galilee, while 13-year-old Silvana Tsegai, the daughter of Eritrean migrant workers, was beaten to death in Tel Aviv, by her mother’s ex-partner.
According to the report, 196 women have been murdered in Israel in the past decade. There are some 200,000 battered women in Israel and some 600,000 children have witnessed domestic violence.
At the demonstration in Jerusalem, women blasted the government for not taking responsibility for fifty percent of the population and said they want the government to treat the problem as a national emergency.
“Violence is a big problem in our society and we are trying to fight it. We want the government to treat the problem as a national emergency, two teenagers have been killed in the last week, the government should protect half of its citizens who are women,” Maya Livne from Standing Together, a movement of Jews and Arabs, who aim to create social change told TPS.
Sharon Keiser director of the Center for Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault told TPS that most of the funding of her organization is from donations and she asks the government to take responsibility for the problem of violence against women.
“ We treat 9000 cases a year there is an increase in the number of reports from year to year,” Keiser said. “The international campaigns against sexual assaults generate more awareness, but social media has also played a prominent role in prompting many of the sexual assaults, therefore, it is most important that the Education Ministry should build educational programs for prevention.”
By Mara Vigevani/TPS | Photo by Esty Dziubov/TPS