A Cry Against Contempt for Women’s Lives

Women and men across Israel strike in protest of government’s ignoring of femicide. The state must not perpetuate institutional inequality bearing fatal consequences

Ahead of the anti-femicide protests, feminist activists on poured red water – to symbolize blood – into public water fountains in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. December 3, 2018
Emil Salman

Yara Ayoub, 16, of Jish and Silvana Tsegai, 12, of Tel Aviv were murdered last week. They join the bloodstained list of 22 women and girls murdered since the beginning of the year. The latest wave of violence cannot be taken off the agenda, say Dror Sadot, Stav Amnon and Ruti Klein, who have organized the protest against violence against women, which will be held across Israel on Tuesday.

The main event will be the march from Tel Aviv’s WIZO House, joined by families of the victims from past years. With the Red Flag coalition, which numbers over 50 feminist organizations, they are demanding that the government allocate the 250 million shekels ($67 million) that it approved last year for a program to prevent violence against women. At 10 A.M., 24 minutes of silence will be observed across the country in memory of the 24 women killed in domestic-violence incidents in the last year.

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Not only women’s organizations should be leading this fight. It belongs to all Israeli citizens. Therefore, women and men across the country will strike on Tuesday in protest against the government’s ignoring of the murder of women and violence in the family. The Knesset actually had an opportunity to prove that it is the address for dealing with this ongoing tragedy, but its members, male and female, chose to vote against establishing a parliamentary investigative committee on the subject of femicide in Israel. Parliamentary discipline is more important than human lives. The female MKs had excuses, even those for whom the struggle for women is a defining part of their activities.

There are 200,000 physically abused women in Israel, and this figure will not change unless the government wakes up. The forced visit of the prime minister and his wife to some random battered women’s shelter will not help when government funding does not go to finding and rescuing the victims. Women and men are taking to the streets on Tuesday because it looks like no one in the government, including its head, is in a rush to do everything in their power to rein in the phenomenon. Two weeks ago, the Council for Higher Education approved gender separation on campuses. With a deceptive cover of pluralism and a desire to integrate Haredi men into the workforce, the Council for Higher Education is denying the fact that separation only prepares the ground for the exclusion of women down the road.

The High Court of Justice, which is supposed to be the beacon of equality in Israel, also failed. By a majority of two justices, the status of women was pushed back last week. The court reinforced built-in discrimination in the religious courts when it decided not to intervene in the religious court ruling by which a woman has no right to half of marital property if she “cheated” on her husband. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked found nothing amiss in the ruling.

A great cry will be heard on Tuesday, when women and men across the country strike in protest against the characteristic contempt for women’s lives. Women will demand change at work, on campuses and in the public square. Women’s lives are not cheap, and a country that calls itself democratic cannot continue perpetuating institutional inequality that has fatal consequences for women.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.