The Hadash fraction in the Histadrut has called upon the labor federation to join a strike supported by dozens of women’s groups for next Tuesday, December 4, to protest the social plague of violence against women. The Chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality MK, Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List), has also called upon the public in Israel to join the nationwide protest.
Following the murder of two teenage girls on Monday, November 26, 13-year-old Sylvana Tsegai from Tel Aviv and 16-year-old Yara Ayoub from Jish, crimes which brought the number of female victims of domestic violence since the beginning of the year to 24, thousands of women, including numerous women’s organizations and Hadash students’ groups in universities and colleges, announced their intention to join the strike set for next Tuesday. The day after after the discovery of the two bodies, three activists, Stav Arnon, Ruty Klein and Dror Sadot, decided that enough is enough and set up a Facebook page calling on women and men across the country to strike on December 4.
The strikers will be demanding the immediate transfer of a 250 million shekel budget for an emergency program to prevent violence against women; the rehabilitation of victims of domestic violence; education and public awareness efforts; and a comprehensive policy change by the Israel Police Force in its approach to domestic violence. There already is an existing plan that has been approved by ministers but which has still not been budgeted.
Last Sunday, November 25, two thousand demonstrators decried violence against women and sexism at a Tel Aviv rally, in an event marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The demonstrators, among them Communist MKs Aida Touma-Sliman and Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List), denounced misogyny and called for governmental action to halt the murder and abuse of women in Israel.
On Tuesday, November 27, the day after the murders of the teenagers Tsegai and Ayoub, several demonstrations were held throughout Israel to protest violence against women: in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer-Sheva, Jaffa, Nazareth, Nazareth Illit, Arabeh, Sakhnin, Kufr Yassif, Acre, Kufr Qassem, Iksal, Yafia, Tamra, Kyriat Shmona, the Negev and in the universities by students from Hadash.
Naila Awwad, director of the Association of Women against Violence, noted that women’s organizations have intensified their battle in recent years. “One front in this battle is society and its values, which oppress women,” she said. “Another significant front is the police and the law enforcement system, because their negligence and lack of professionalism in doing their jobs maintains women’s inferior status. We think that if the police receive a threat about national security, within seconds, all the roads are blocked. However, when it is a matter of women’s lives, it is not sufficiently interesting.”