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Israel: Domestic violence, including legislation; state protection and support services available to victims (March 2010-January 2013)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 19 February 2013
Citation / Document Symbol ISR104277.E
Related Document Israël : information sur la violence familiale, y compris les lois; la protection offerte par l'État et les services de soutien offerts aux victimes (mars 2010-janvier 2013)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Israel: Domestic violence, including legislation; state protection and support services available to victims (March 2010-January 2013), 19 February 2013, ISR104277.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5152bc282.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. Overview

According to a 2011 government information booklet for women, published by the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women of the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, "violence against women is a serious blight on society" (Israel 2011, 3). According to the website of the Ministry of Justice, "many families suffer from physical, sexual, verbal and psychological threat and harassment" (ibid. n.d.). The Ministry of Social Affairs' data indicates that "there are more than 145,000 battered women in Israel" (ibid. 2011, 3). The Jerusalem Post, a Jerusalem-based English language newspaper, reports that the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO) estimates that there were about 200,000 women victims of domestic violence in 2011 (25 Nov. 2012).

The US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 reports that, as of September 2011, there were 11,886 domestic violence complaints filed with the police (US 24 May 2012, 14). The report further notes that, out of these complaints, as of the end of 2011, 556 complaints were still being investigated, 2,758 were transferred to the State Attorney's Office, 1,291 were heard by courts and 7,281 were closed (ibid.). However, Country Reports 2011 adds that, "women from certain Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, and Druze communities face significant social pressure against reporting rape or domestic abuse" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources report that, according to WIZO, 24 women were killed by family members in 2011 (The Jerusalem Post 25 Nov. 2012) and 19 women were killed between January and November 2012 (ibid.; The Times of Israel 25 Nov. 2012).

2. State Protection
2.1 Legislation

According to the website Family Law in Israel, created by the family-law firm Amihoud Borochov Law Office of Tel Aviv, "varying degrees of physical force such as shaking, pushing, grabbing, slapping, etc … [are] listed under the 1977 Penal Act" (n.d.). However, the report of the UN Economic and Social Council states that "domestic violence is not defined as a crime in the Penal Code" (UN 16 Dec. 2011, para. 18). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the website of the Ministry of Justice, physical, sexual, verbal and psychological threat and harassment are prohibited by law and are considered to be criminal offences (Israel n.d.). The government information booklet explains that

[a]ccording to the Prevention of Family Violence Law, 5751-1991, an individual may apply for, and obtain, a court protection order against any family member who behaves violently towards other family members. Violence can be physical, emotional, financial or of a different kind. The protection order may be given in the presence of the applicant alone, but a hearing with both parties present must take place within seven days of issuing the protection order.

The protection order can, for example, prohibit the violent person from entering the family's residence, harassing any family member, and so on. (ibid. 2011, 5)

The website of the Ministry of Justice indicates that, under the Prevention of Family Violence Law, the court may remove the violent family member from the home for a period of up to three months and may extend this period, provided that the total period does not exceed six months (ibid. n.d.). However, in special circumstances, the "[j]udge has power to extend the [protection order] for a period of not exceeding one year from the date of removal" (ibid.).

Country Reports 2011 indicates that "rape, including spousal rape, is a felony punishable by 16 years in prison" (US 24 May 2012, 13-14). The report further notes that, if the perpetrator assaults or rapes a relative, the penalty will be doubled (ibid.).

2.2 Implementation of the Law

According to the government information booklet, there are legal aid bureaus throughout the country that provide guidance and legal assistance to women and their children, including cases in which protection or restraining orders are issued (Israel 2011, 7). Similarly, the website of the Ministry of Justice notes that legal aid offices located across the country provide legal assistance to all members of the family in matters related to family violence (ibid. n.d.).

However, the UN Economic and Social Council report points out that although it recognizes the actions undertaken by the State to combat domestic violence, there is a concern that the "prevalence of domestic violence against women and girls has not decreased significantly" (UN 16 Dec. 2011, para. 18). Sources reports that, according to a WIZO representative, there are "difficulties" in the implementation and enforcement of protection orders for women victims of violence (The Jerusalem Post 25 Nov. 2012; The Times of Israel 25 Nov. 2012). The WIZO representative is quoted by the Times of Israel (ibid.) and the Jerusalem Post (25 Nov. 2012) as saying that the "'lack of enforcement'" puts women at risk with their violent spouses. Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

A professor of Sociology at Carleton University who specializes in women and gender in the Middle East (Professor 6 Feb. 2013), in correspondence with the Research Directorate, indicated that domestic violence law is "not effective, especially within the Arab sector" (ibid. 1 Feb. 2013). The Professor pointed out that "all women in Israel, but Arabs more so than Jews, are reluctant to go to the police" because the police are "seen as a force of aggression and not of protection" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Support Services
3.1 Shelters

Sources provide information on a number of shelters.

  • L.O. Combat Violence Against Women operates three shelters for women and children in Herzlya, Hedera and Rishon le Zion (JWI n.d.; L.O. Combat Violence Against Women n.d.). The organization provides services including legal, social and psychological assistance (ibid.). About 70 percent of the organization's expenses are covered by the government (ibid.);
  • A Tel-Aviv branch of WIZO, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, sponsors two shelters, legal clinics, community education and support groups for battered women (JWI n.d.);
  • Maslan Negev Women's Support Center in Beer Sheva provides a shelter for battered women and their children, as well as legal assistance (ibid.). The Center also operates support groups for victims of sexual violence (ibid.);
  • Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter provides short-term shelter for women victims of violence and then refers them to long-term battered women's shelters or helps them with housing arrangements (ibid.). The shelter provides services to Arab and Jewish women and their children (Women's Crisis Shelter n.d.);
  • Women for Women Haifa battered women's shelter provides social and legal assistance to women staying at the shelter (JWI n.d.; The Jerusalem Post 3 June 2008). The Graduate Program run by the shelter assists women who left the shelter in their re-integration into society (JWI n.d.). The shelter has capacity for 11 women and 23 children (The Jerusalem Post 3 June 2008);
  • Women Against Violence (WAV) provides services for Palestinian women in Israel, including a shelter for battered women and their children (WAV n.d.a). The shelter offers mentoring and counselling services, among others (ibid. n.d.b).

The Professor noted that there are about 40 shelters for women victims of violence in Israel, two of which are in the "Arab sector" (Professor 1 Feb. 2013). The professor indicated that one of the two shelters is in Haifa and it houses both Arab and Jewish women (ibid.). However, the Professor expressed the opinion that, because the shelter is directed by Jewish women, "Arab women do not like to go there" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.2 Telephone Hotlines

Several sources report that there are telephone hotlines for women victims of domestic violence (L.O. Combat Violence Against Women n.d.; US 24 May 2012, 14; Israel 2011, 9-11). For instance, L.O. Combat Violence Against Women organization runs 24-hour hotlines in Hebrew and Russian (L.O. Combat Violence Against Women n.d.). Country Reports 2011 indicates that the Ministry of Social Affairs operates an "abuse reporting hotline" (US 24 May 2012, 14). The Haifa battered women's hotline provides a 24-hour hotline for women in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, English and Amharic (JWI n.d.). Volunteers from the hotline offer other services, such as accompanying victims to the police, court, hospital, social worker or other community service agencies (ibid.). WAV operates a 24-hour crisis hotline in Arabic (WAV n.d.c). The hotline provides moral support and legal counselling (ibid.). Furthermore, volunteers accompany women to police stations and direct women to WAV's shelter (ibid.).

The government information booklet also provides a list of emergency hotlines, including:

  • ERAN - emergency emotional support (open 24 hours) and ERAN hotline in Russian;
  • National hotline for preventing domestic violence and for at-risk children operated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services provides services in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and Amharic;
  • Rape Crisis Center - National Hotline for Women (open 24 hours), a hotline in Arabic; and
  • WIZO national hotline for battered women (Israel 2011, 9-11).

3.3 Other Services

The government information booklet includes the phone numbers of centres providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and centres for the prevention of domestic violence in the Jerusalem region, southern regions, Tel Aviv and the central region, Haifa and the northern region (ibid., 13-16). The booklet also includes the phone numbers of centres for victims of sexual assault, legal aid bureaus, as well as centres providing services in Arabic (ibid., 17-28, 32, 33). The Jerusalem Post reports that, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry's centres for the prevention of domestic violence helped about 11,778 individuals in 2011, 67 percent of which were women (25 Nov. 2012). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Family Law in Israel. N.d. "Violence - Scope." [Accessed 31 Jan. 2013]

Israel. 2011. Prime Minister's Office, Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. "No One Has the Right to Hurt You." [Accessed 5 Feb. 2013]

_____. N.d. Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Department. "Violence in the Family." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2013]

The Jerusalem Post. 25 November 2012. Danielle Ziri. "WIZO: 26% Decrease in Domestic Violence Deaths." [Accessed 4 Feb. 2013]

_____. 3 June 2008. Wendy Blumfield. "30 Years of Refuge" [Accessed 7 Feb. 2013]

Jewish Women International (JWI). N.d. "Directory of Domestic Violence Resources." [Accessed 31 Jan. 2013]

L.O. Combat Violence Against Women. N.d. "About L.O." [Accessed 30 Jan. 2013]

Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa. 6 February 2013. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

_____. 1 February 2013. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

The Times of Israel. 25 November 2012. Asher Zeiger. "19 Women Killed by Family Members in Israel in Past Year." [Accessed 30 Jan. 2013]

United Nations (UN). 16 December 2011. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant. Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Israel. (E/C.12/ISR/CO/3) [Accessed 29 Jan. 2013]

United States (US). 24 May 2012. Department of State. "Israel." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. [Accessed 29 Jan. 2013]

Women Against Violence (WAV). N.d.a. "About Us." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "Units and Projects." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2013]

_____. N.d.c. "Units and Projects." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2013]

Women's Crisis Shelter, Haifa. N.d. "About." [Accessed 7 Feb. 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact the following were unsuccessful: Amihoud Borochov Family Law; Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel; B'Tselem; Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, University of California; Center for Women in Jewish Law; Counselling Center for Women; Crisis Center for Religious Women; Faculty of Law and Institute of Criminology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University; Haifa Battered Women's Hotline; Haifa Rape Crisis Center; Haifa Women's Coalition; Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter; Isha L'Isha Haifa Feminist Center; Israel — Ministry of Police, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, State Comptroller and Ombudsman; Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; L.O. Combat Violence Against Women; Women's International Zionist Organization; Women for Women Haifa Battered Women's Shelter.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; Association for Civil Rights in Israel; BBC; Bnai Zion Foundation; Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel; B'Tselem; Factiva; Family Law in Israel; Freedom House; Haaretz; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Heinrich Böll Stiftung; HotPeachPages; Human Rights Watch; International Committee of the Red Cross; Israel — Israel Government Portal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, State Comptroller and Ombudsman; Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Jewish Communal Fund; Jews for Jesus; Jewish Virtual Library; Jewish Women's Archive; Jewish Women International; Minority Rights Group International; Nazareth Trust; Observatory for the protection of Human Rights Defenders; Political Handbook of the World; The Times of Israel; United Nations — Committee Against Torture, Human Rights Council, Refworld, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; UK Border Agency; US — Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine; Women's Law.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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