Israel Reports Four Suicides Linked to Domestic Violence Since Start of Coronavirus Lockdown

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A demonstration against violence against women in Tel Aviv, December 20, 2019
A demonstration against violence against women in Tel Aviv, December 20, 2019Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Welfare Ministry reported to the Knesset on Sunday that since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Israel, which placed a large portion of the population in lockdown at home, four people have committed suicide in cases related to domestic violence.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, Hagai Moyal, the national supervisor of the ministry office dealing with domestic violence, said his office was aware of two women and two men who committed suicide during the current period as a result of domestic violence.

Last Wednesday, the ministry announced that the number of domestic violence complaints that had been filed on an average day in the prior two weeks was four times what it was during the first month of coronavirus restrictions. In the 12 days between April 16 and April 27, the emergency hotline number, 118, received 400 complaints, compared to 244 complaints during the period from March 15 and April 15.

As a result of the jump in complaints, the ministry has made it possible to contact the hotline more discretely by text message, rather than in a telephne call. A new women’s shelter was also opened for women who have to go into quarantine due to the coronavirus.

The chairwoman of the Knesset committee, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, convened the committee session following the murder of four women in cases linked to domestic violence.

Since limitations were imposed on movement, “women have entered their home, in essence entering a trap, going to the place that is the most dangerous for them,” she said. “They are shut in with the violent man, which could be physical, emotional or sexual [violence].” She called on women subject to domestic violence to leave home.

Moyal said his ministry has launched a campaign against domestic violence in Hebrew, to be followed by campaigns in other languages. That prompted Touma-Sliman to allege that that such campaigns in Arabic and Amharic, the language of the Ethiopian community, are always delayed.

On Tuesday of last week, a 31-year-old woman was killed by her husband in Holon. He admitted to the killing the following day. Earlier in April, a 42-year-old woman was killed in front of her husband in Lod. A local resident was arrested on suspicion of involvement. In mid-March, a 56-year-old woman was killed in Rishon Letzion. Police suspect that her husband shot her and then tried to commit suicide.

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