The number of calls to Israel's domestic violence hotline increased by 10 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year, figures published Wednesday by the Social Affairs Ministry show.
By contrast, the ministry noted that the number of victims of domestic violence admitted to women’s shelters this year has simultaneously declined.
Last year, the ministry said that it saw a record 603 women admitted to shelters against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. Between January and October of this year, the numbers had dropped to 498, and no significant increase in admissions is expected through the end of 2021.
The ministry published the figures in advance of next Thursday’s observance of the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
From January through October 2021, the ministry’s domestic violence hotline, which can be reached by dialing 118, received 7,977 calls. Of the calls, 4,382 were related to violence against a woman by a domestic partner, 295 dealt with violence against a man by a domestic partner and 1,649 involved domestic violence against children. In addition, the hotline received calls relating to domestic violence against the elderly and between other members of a family.
Last year, two new shelters were opened in Israel for women victims of domestic violence and their children. One was opened following the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, while the other was opened to accommodate a mixed population of Jewish and Arab women.
Of the country’s 16 shelters currently in operation, two are for Arab women, two are for Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women, three are for a mix of Arab and Jewish women and three are geared for women with adolescent children. The country’s shelters deal with women who have been subjected to physical, sexual, mental and economic abuse.
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“One of the most important developments in the field of domestic violence is the refinement of the definition of domestic violence and what is considered violence,” Iris Florentin, the ministry’s deputy director for social services, noted. “We’ve learned that not only physical violence harms women and children. We also see financial violence, sexual violence among couples, verbal violence and emotional violence. In addition to developing services and changing legislation, our task is to make information available and increase public awareness.”
In 2020, the Social Affairs Ministry also operated 165 centers for the prevention of domestic violence, including 59 geared to the country’s Arab community and four for the ultra-Orthodox community. The centers received 19,337 requests for service – a 13 percent jump over 2019. Last year’s increase has been attributed to the outbreak of the pandemic and the lockdowns that were imposed to address the spread of the virus.
According to data provided by the ministry, last year 17,771 of the requests required the intervention of a social worker compared to 15,653 the year before. Last year, 10,338 of the cases required the ongoing involvement of a social worker.