Fighting violence against women

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The Best Medicine

A group of first-year medical students from The Tel Aviv University Medical School visited the Herzlia shelter to learn firsthand about domestic violence and the shelters for battered women in Israel. The visit was part of the ongoing cooperation between the Medical School and our shelters.

The students got an overview of the topic and met women residents of the shelter. The women opened up to them and told their life stories, describing living in a violent home, its impact on their self-image and their children. Continue reading

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Good People All Around

All year and especially on Good Deed Day, we are privileged to meet people whose beautiful side shines. This year at the Rishon shelter, the good people from AIG, Women’s Circle of Rishon, and the volunteers from Ruach Tova came together, pulled up their sleeves and began renewing the children’s rooms, dining room and clubhouse. They plastered and painted the walls, drew on them and made them all fresh and new. Continue reading

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Say No to Violence against Women without Status and Adolescent Boys

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. Continue reading

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Anat’s Story

 “Seeing how absolutely miserable my son was just broke me up, his heart-rending sobs crushed my heart,” as Anat [name changed] told me, “and that was the moment I decided to get out, to leave the house as long as I still could, if only to restore control over my life to myself, and over my children’s lives… Understanding came later… At this stage it was to save ourselves from him.”

Anat’s choice to live “on the bright side of the moon” was, in a certain sense, the choice between life or death in the simplest meaning of the word.

Physical death of the body… Continue reading

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Violence against Children

The horror of violence against children has been part of our lives for generations.

We know about the story of the Binding of Isaac from the Book of Genesis. Abraham didn’t bring this basic concept to God. He evidently brought it with him from Ur Chisdim, the source of his quarry. After that he threw out Hagar, his mistress, and his second son Essau, to the desert where they were to die of hunger and thirst. The sacrifice of children was part of the ancient Canaanite culture which the Jews tried to obliterate, however when they came for revenge on the men of the Benjamin tribe for their terrible crime against the mistress, they murdered all of the males in the tribe.

The Aztecs would sacrifice the most beautiful young people to their God. The Spartan father would place his infant child on the roof of the house at night. If he stayed alive, this was a sign that he was suitable to live the Spartan lifestyle. Isn’t the custom that’s reigned for thousands of years of sending the young to fight, and mostly to die in horrible battles and other sadistic methods thought up in the minds of men, violence against young people?

Violence against children and the sacrifice of children to a God or national cause comes to us from a place where the head of the family, tribe or clan, the tyrant, king or dictator are all part of the patriarchal culture that is in contrast to the concept of democratic equality which we uphold today. In places where a woman is a lowly servant, she has absolutely no say in the fate and future of her children. The father or the brothers and the uncles decided who the girl would marry, at what age, and what they would receive in exchange for this transaction. When the mother herself has no rights, her children have no rights as well. When American slave owners sold a female slave, they didn’t always sell her children to the same owner.

And the children? What happens to them? How were they treated? In England there is a well-known expression: Small children are meant to be seen and not heard. In short, don’t open your mouths! This is in middle class families. In the aristocratic families the children were raised by a nanny and when they reached a certain age the boys were sent to boarding school far away from home. Not to be heard or seen. And the children of the laborers? There are reports that people sent to forced labor in the mines were sent together with their families. The children went to work at farming (most of the world population were sharecroppers at the beginning of the twentieth century), or in small workshops. In countries like Iran, young girls would tie the woolen threads of the luxurious carpets. Children today serve as juvenile prostitutes for pedophiles, beggars, and jobs that brutally take away their childhoods and young adulthoods. Violence against children, women and animals, were a fact of life experienced by many. Teaching a child in this way meant an abundance of physical violence, with the hands, fists, sticks, whips and belts. At school teachers and principals had the right to hit children.

During my childhood, on the way to my school, I passed by different schools of different ethnic groups. The windows faced out into Samuel the Prophet Street in Jerusalem and I could clearly see the teacher hitting the children on their fingers. The children learned to clench their teeth and be silent. In England, the teachers hit the boys on their backsides and hands in front of the whole class – until about fifty years ago. Another English saying is: Spare the rod and spoil the child.

A recent study in Israel showed that 48% of Jewish children suffer from various types of violence at the hands of adults: physical, sexual, or emotional violence or a combination of the three. Among the Arab children the number was 66%. It’s unclear if it also includes children in the charedi (ultra-orthodox Jewish) sector. One third of elementary school children are exposed to violence from other children, in the family, at school and in the neighborhood. These boys and girls are afraid to go to school. These statistics are shocking and aggravating. It’s clear that children who are exposed to violence toward their mother become victims of violence in the hands of the violent father. According to these findings more than 75% of children experience violence. We remain silent and bury our heads in the sand.

I turn to the Minister of Education, Rabbi Shai Piron, and the Committee for the Advancement of Children’s Rights and demand the rights for all the children living in our country to live without fear and terror, without violence and pain. The damage that is caused to their young souls is etched forever inside them. Some will become violent adults, some will choose other ways to escape like crime, drugs and alcohol, and others will attempt to end their lives and unfortunately even succeed.

Margaret Mead claimed in one of her anthropological studies done many years ago: “It takes a village to raise one child.” Let’s make it a national challenge and become one village. In the understanding of the child’s needs, in the reading of the books of Yanush Korchak, the noteworthy educator, in the observation of body language and the sadness that pours from the eyes of suffering children. Let’s teach our early childhood educators and school teachers that before imparting new knowledge, it is our duty to give them the security, love and faith in the world around them.

Ruth Rasnic
Founder and Director
No to Violence

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Personal Opinion

Nitza Eshed is a strong, smart and beautiful woman, who is a member in the organization’s Executive Committee and answers our emergency lines for over eight years. She has a degree in philosophy and gender studies, a gemological in her profession and a former journalist. For many years, Nitza assisted in Beit Dror with gay, lesbian and transgender teens and women engaged in prostitution. She is a mother of three, grandmother of three – and married to Avi for 40 years ago. We are happy to give a place of honor to her writings that are based on extensive knowledge and rich experience of the human experience and feminist ideology.

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Children in Shelters

Children make up 60% of shelter residents. This fact creates a great deal of work with and around them.

Because of limited accommodation, most shelters can accept only three children with their mothers, though larger families are occasionally taken in. Our shelters have nurseries for toddlers.

The shelters’ residents are women from other towns, but children attend local schools in the town where their shelter is located. Children with special needs, or those requiring remedial lessons, pose a special problem and their entry into the educational system may take several weeks. During vacations the older children stay with the younger children. Continue reading

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The Advantages of a Shelter – for the Children Arriving With Their Mothers

Children arriving at a shelter for battered women leave behind them a tense relationship. They also leave the exposure to emotional, verbal, physical and occasionally sexual violence. In some instances they were the victims. In most cases they were witnesses to their mother’s victimization.

The separation from their home environment gives the children a chance of seeing and experiencing different solutions to the tensions and violence they had experienced in their homes. Many children talk of a relatively peaceful and relaxing time during their stay at a shelter, while discovering the possibility for varying solutions and a healing experience. Continue reading