Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services: Failed to Combat Violence Against Women

Etti Aflallo, Calcalist, April 24th, 2019

CEO: Avigdor Kaplan, National Insurance Institute Director: Meir Spagler, Director General of the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority: Arie Bibi, CEO of the Rehabilitation Center: Ariel Levy.

The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services has two main branches: the labor force and the welfare branch. Both of these have great influence on the promotion of gender equality in Israel and the status of women in society. Over the past year, there has been a large increase in violence against women.

“At the end of a difficult and bloody year, in which 26 women were murdered on the basis of gender, thousands of women in Israel took to the streets to protest against the helplessness of the authorities in protecting their lives in what was the first women’s strike in Israel’s history,” says attorney Miriam Salkind of the Israel Women’s Network (IWN). “The Ministry of Social Affairs has a central role in the treatment and prevention of violence against women in society and in particular in the family, and many failures in dealing with the phenomenon are placed at its doorstep. Violence against women in Israel is not a decree of fate and the role of the Ministry of Welfare is to carry the flag in the struggle against this phenomenon”.

The IWN recommends improving the treatment of violent men. Today, only those who are in criminal proceedings are given mandatory treatment. In addition, there are only two men’s rehabilitation shelters, despite a commitment that by the end of 2017, there would be six.

In order to combat violence against women, additional social workers who speak Arabic, Russian, Amharic, Tigrinya and French are required for welfare departments, and 40 additional social worker positions should be allocated to police stations.

Another failure of the Ministry, according to the IWN, is the decision to close five hostels for girls at-risk. “The closure of the hostels will leave many girls who come from difficult backgrounds, some of whom have been severely abused (physically, sexually and/or mentally) without a suitable treatment framework, and we do not see any alternatives,” says  Zalkind.

An examination of the distribution of the budget of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs shows a male preference throughout. Thus, in the Ministry’s labor force, the vast majority of the professional training budget (73%, NIS 493 million) is invested in men and only 27% in women (NIS 185 million). In other departments, the situation is more balanced: out of the Rehabilitation Division’s expenses, about 59% were reserved for men and o41% for women. This ratio was also maintained in the Division’s expenditure on mental and developmental disabilities. The budgets of the Rehabilitation Division (which treats populations in serious distress) were divided so that 64% of the budget was earmarked for men and 36% for women. Only the expenditure of the Social Services Division was divided equally (50.25% for men and 49.75% for women).

It is interesting to see that the average per capita expenditure for men is higher than the average expenditure for women, for almost the entire lifespan. Per capita expenditure for women rises only after the age of 65 (since women are now classified as “senior citizens” earlier than men). Between the ages of 12-17 the average expenditure for a teenag boy is NIS 1,484, while the average expenditure for a girl is NIS 997 – a difference of 33%. At the age of 18-29, the gap reaches 37% (NIS 821 for a man versus NIS 521 for a woman).

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