Fighting violence against women

Say No to Violence against Women without Status and Adolescent Boys

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We accept all women and children suffering from domestic violence into our three shelters, which were established in 1977. We accept everyone no matter their race, religion or citizenship. Children are color blind. We see this in the shelters where children from all walks of life gather in heartwarming friendship after their day at school. They all play together: Russians, Ethiopians, Nepalese, Filipino, Muslim, Bedouin, Israelis and other new immigrants.

Recently we visited the Knesset several times regarding two very important issues: The shelters are finding it hard to accept adolescent boys and women without status. Knesset Member Dr. Aliza Lavi, Chairperson of the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality has taken it upon herself to deal with these issues and we are happy to say that there are signs of a solution.

The women without status come primarily from Moldova, Ukraine, Sudan and other countries. They either met a ‘charming’ man in their home country, or arrived in Israel for different reasons, became involved or fell in love with a violent man, sometimes bearing his children. And then one day they take a stand and say: “Enough!” Enough of the beatings, the threats, the degradation. Enough of being held hostage by this violent man and they run away to the shelter. Here they find our wonderful bureaucracy in all of its glory: The violent man reports the woman to the authorities. She isn’t an Israeli citizen and since she is no longer with the man, this stops her naturalization process, if she had begun it, and brings about her immediate deportation from Israel.

On the other hand, the man takes out a no-exit order against his children so they will be unable to leave the country with their mother. Now the woman is up in the air. As if the violence she suffered isn’t enough, the moment she leaves the shelter she will be immediately deported, without her children!

Knesset Member Michal Rosin is working together with our organization and many others as head of a committee, to bring about a change. We are hopeful that this unjust situation will change and that women who give birth to children who are Israeli citizens, will automatically become Israeli citizens themselves.

Knesset Member Dr. Aliza Lavi, Chairperson of the Committee for Advancement of Women and Gender Equality, is working to deal with the issue of the adolescent boys whom the shelters are unable to accommodate. At a visit to our Rishon LeZion shelter a discussion was held regarding the difficult problem of these young adolescents. Boys of this age already imitate the behavior of their parent who is a role model for them. For boys above the age of eleven this means that the only behavior they know is violent on the one hand, and on the other hand, they are still children that need their mothers. When the mother decides to go to the shelter to save her life, the boy is sent to a boarding school. He feels abandoned and a rift grows between him and his mother, which may eventually lead to a complete and harsh severing of relations.

It’s clear that at that age it is difficult for them to go with their mother into the shelter, leave their friends and home, move to a new school, and spend their time in a home filled with women and many children much younger than they are. They have raging hormones in a place where privacy is nonexistent. Women move from the shower to the room wrapped in towels. The shelter has nineteen-year-old women, mothers of babies, and for boys 14-15 that paves the way for trouble.

Several ideas were discussed and in the end it was decided to try out a pilot program in three shelters in different parts of the country. These shelters include separate accommodations for women with adolescent boys. With appropriate therapy and special afternoon activities, a real and significant change can take place, which will alter the lives of the young boys and break the cycle of violence from moving on to another generation.

Finally, I want to send our deepest sympathies from all of us here at the organization to Ruth Rasnic, our dearest founder and chairperson, on the passing of her beloved spouse of 59 years, Daniel Rasnic. We all know what an important role Danny played in our Ruth’s life, and how she worried and cared for him during his last years. We all feel that there aren’t enough words that can comfort her on this terrible loss, but we want Ruth to know that she isn’t alone.

In honor of Women’s Day that took place recently, I want to wish everyone a year of peace and courage.

Daniela Kehat, CEO Say No to Violence

No to Violence

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