Situation of battered women, police attitude towards cases of violence against women and on the application of the 1991 law [ISR30892.E]

The following information was provided on 19 January 1999 by the Israel Women's Network (IWN) - Shdulat Hanashim Beyisrael. IWN works against discrimination in the household and the workplace. IWN is a non-partisan organization of women, who, while representing a wide range of political opinions and religious outlooks, are nonetheless united in their desire to improve the status of women in Israel. The following information was sent by e-mail.

Statistics on Violence Against Women in Israel

Murdered Women

In 1996 there were twenty women killed in Israel. Thirteen of them were murdered by their spouses. Six of these women were immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU), of which four were murdered by their spouses, the two others were killed by other family members.

In 1997 twenty-six women were killed in Israel out of which fourteen were murdered by their spouses. Of the twenty-six women, five were new immigrants from FSU and two of them were murdered by their spouse, another two were killed by other family members, and one was murdered during a sexual attack.

In 1998 twenty-six women were murdered in Israel. Thirteen of them killed by their spouses. Three were from the FSU and they were all murdered by their spouses.

Domestic Violence

Estimations are that one out of seven women in Israel are battered. Only one out of six of these women report the crime. In 1996, 14,292 complaints of domestic abuse were filed with the police, 15, 440 in 1997, and 16,895 in 1998. These charges include assault and battery, threats, property damages, disobeyance of restraining order and indecent acts.

Sexual Violence

Police records for 1998 indicate that every twelve hours a rape takes place in Israel and every four hours an indecent act is committed. Each day on average between 60- 120 women suffer sexual attacks. Only between 10-20% report these attacks to the authorities. In 1996 the police investigated 3001 cases of sexual violence, in 1997, 2431 and in 1998, 2680 (684 of which were rape and statutory rape).

Implementation of the 1991 Law for Preventing Violence in the Family

The situation in Israel with respect to the protection by the courts of women vicitms of domestic violence is not much different from other Western countries. Court were slow at the outset to impose heavy sentences for men who murdered their wives however, this has changed in recent years and judges are now imposing life sentences in these cases. With respect to the issuance of injunctions in cases of domestic violence, there has been little reported problems. As in most countries problems most often arise with police enforcement of protective orders and with the time delays involved.
A specific example of the change in judicial attitudes toward spousal abuse was the 1995 case of Carmela Buhbut v. The State of Israel. In that case a woman sentenced to seven years imprisonment for killing her abusive husband, successfully challenged the severity of her punishment. Justice Dorner, rejected the assumption that imposing a long prison sentence would deter other victims of abuse from taking the law into their own hands.
Arguing that it is society's responsibility to provide battered women with alternatives other than recourse to violence, Dorner emphasized the fact that Buhbut's entire community- indeed her entire family- stood by in silence for years as she suffered. The sentence was reduced to three years, and the efforts of various public figures, including Knesset members, have since succeeded in having Ms. Buhbut paroled. A recent amendment to the Penal Law -1977 allows courts to impose more lenient sentences on victims of severe abuse who have been convicted of murdering the perpetrators of the abuse.

Attitude of the Police with Regard to Cases of Violence Against Women

We have faxed to you a copy of the recent article "Police Handling of Wife Beating in Israel" by Erella Shadmi which deals with this issue quite comprehensively. [see attached]

Shelters for Battered Women

Israel has 12 shelters for battered women. In all, these shelters have a capacity of 800 women and 1100 children. There are also 30 apartment "safe houses" with a capacity for 60 women and 100 children. There are 12 hotlines for battered women and in 1997 they received 11, 040 calls. There are 19 centres for the prevention of violence against women, in 1997 they helped 12,000 women.

According to Na'amat, an Israeli women's organization, there were 18,717 complaints of domestic violence reported to the police between January and October 1998 (Info-Prod Research, 29 Nov. 1998). The Jerusalem Post reported that

For the first time, there is a clear - if partial - measure of violence against women in this country. The Israel Women's Network released statistics yesterday from the first nationwide survey of agencies that deal with domestic violence and sexual assault.
Nearly 11,000 women turned to the country's nine rape crisis centers in 1997. Eight hundred women and 1,100 children sought protection in 12 shelters for battered women.
At least 1,410 battered women were treated in emergency rooms; this number reflects only cases brought to the attention of social workers. More than 9,000 calls were fielded by hot lines. Police recorded 20,057 complaints of domestic violence, 766 of rape and 1,749 of indecent acts (24 Nov. 1998).

Xinhua reported that 170 Israeli policemen are being trained to deal with domestic violence cases (18 Nov. 1998). The Jerusalem Post stated that the Israel Police "has allocated 120 positions to combat violence against women, including hiring nine Arab women investigators" (16 June 1998). The Jerusalem Post also indicated that the "Knesset added an amendment to the Domestic Violence Law, defining verbal abuse and psychological pressure as forms of domestic violence" ( 14 Jan. 1998).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Info-Prod Research (Middle East). 29 November 1998. "Israel Marks International Day on Domestic Violence". (NEXIS)

Israel Women Network (IWN), Jerusalem. 19 January 1999. Email sent by the Resource Centre Coordinator.

The Jerusalem Post. 24 November 1998. Nina Gilbert and Esther Hecht. "News In Brief: Israel". (NEXIS)

_____. 16 June 1998. Noah Streit. "Report: Most Murdered Wives Did Not Complain of Abuse". (NEXIS)

_____. 14 January 1998. Dan Izenberg. "Growing Concern Fails to Prevent Domestic Violence". (NEXIS)

Xinhua News Agency. 18 November 1998. "Domestic Violence Up in Israel". (NEXIS)


Israel Social Science Research. 1997. Erela Shadmi. Vol. 12, No. 2. " Police Handling of Wife Beating in Israel: Radical Feminist Critique and Public Policy", pp. 55-74.