Hundreds of women demonstrated in cities all over the country on Thursday to protest violence against women, which took the lives of two women during the week.
Some 200 demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, holding posters with murder victims’ pictures and balloons saying “the cry of the transparent women.” Dozens of protesters blocked the road for about half an hour, shouting: “Man, man, wake up, women’s blood matters.”
Several opposition MKs took part in the demonstration, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), Yael Cohen Paran and Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), Tamar Zandberg and Mossi Raz (Meretz), Aida Touma-Sliman and Dov Khenin (Joint List).
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai joined the demonstration, but left after some women rebuked him for not shutting down strip clubs in the city.
The only coalition member to attend was MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), who told Haaretz: “What has this to do with opposition-coalition? Women are being murdered, we must all fight this terrible situation together. The woman who was murdered last week – did anyone ask her who she was voting for? The organizations must be strengthened and laws must be passed.”
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Last week Aliza Shafak, in her 50s, was murdered in her Netanya home. Her ex-husband, Yitzhak Shafak, is suspected of murdering her and fleeing the scene. The police are still searching for him.
On Sunday a policeman shot and killed his wife, Ingwatch Malkamo, 36, in their Netanya apartment, then called the police and turned himself in. The couple had a 2-month old baby, as well as two children from the wife’s previous marriage.
The women at the protest blasted the practice of sending battered women to shelters, while their assailants roamed free. “A violent man must go to a shelter, the woman must stay at home with her children,” said Nurit Avner of the Arye Yehuda NGO that supports teenagers and women in the periphery.
“The murder and killing must be stopped. There should be men demonstrating here with us, this isn’t merely a women’s problem,” she said.
Livni told Haaretz: “At an event like this we should see men, as well as ministers and government officials. Twenty women were killed this year. Men must understand that women aren’t their possession. The government hands out weapons instead of dealing with the problem. This is intolerable.”
Touma-Sliman said: “Arab women have protested many times over the years against the murder of women [in the Arab community] and have felt alone in their struggle, which the authorities treat as part of the ‘Arab society’s culture. This is also reflected in the government’s policy. The Justice Ministry refuses to see women’s murder as murder in aggravated circumstances, and insists on inserting the term ‘murder to preserve the family’s honor’ into the law book.”
“Today’s demonstrations are extremely important,” said Touma-Sliman. “It’s time to point the finger at the government, which bears responsibility, and at its roaring silence and incompetence in the face of this widespread affliction.”
Actress and activist Yael Abekasis, one of the protest’s organizers, read out the names of the women who had been murdered over the past year and said: “Enough, this can be stopped. We must act differently, make a change. I’m not the justice or social affairs minister, nor a doctor, judge or teacher. I’m a woman. A national emergency authority must be set up. Our soul is being murdered.”
Co-organizer Bracha Barad of Kulan, a women’s organization (not the Kulanu party), “We have gathered today at dozens of places nationwide, from north to south, to say we’ve had enough and can no longer keep silent. Twenty-two women are murdered on average every year and nothing happens. There’s a five-year plan of 250 million shekels and it isn’t being implemented. Money is needed for therapy, rehabilitation, shelters and prevention. Children must be taught to detect potentially violent situations and how not to be drawn into them.”
Nadav, an 11th-grade high school student in Tel Aviv, said at the demonstration: “Yesterday we had a meeting following the murder incidents and decided to form a team that would show its support for this cause. I’m asking the government to give us and the people who want to act the power to do so. The awareness exists, everyone objects to the murder of women, but now it’s time to act.”