Tens of thousands demand government action to protect women

After a day of protests across the country, some 30,000 people gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square demanding government action to protect women.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

More than 300 institutions, both public and private, gave female employees time off on Tuesday to participate in nationwide protests calling for action to end violence against women.

Dozens of municipalities, women’s organizations, labor unions and private firms showed their support for a movement that began just last month after the discoveries, just a few days apart, of the bodies of two females, ages 13 and 16.

In groups ranging from dozens to hundreds, the protesters blocked traffic, held blood-red balloons, and held a minute of silence in honor of the 24 women who lost their lives due to domestic violence this year.

Movement leaders targeted their ire at NIS 250 million in government funding that had been earmarked, but allegedly not used, for countering violence against women. They also attacked recently loosened gun laws.

“Women’s blood is no longer cheap,” one demonstrator said, capturing the sentiment of the day.

In a “grand finale,” some 30,000 people gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Tuesday night to demand government action on the issue.

‘Women set the agenda in the country’

“We made history,” the organizers said. “Now it’s already clear to everyone – women set the agenda in the country. We have clarified that we will not continue to be at the bottom of the government’s and decision-makers’ priority list and that the power is in our hands.”

In a related event on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a new inter-ministerial committee that he said will be devoted to the issue.

“I see violence against women as terrorism in every respect,” the prime minister stated. While noting that the state must “give assistance to battered women and children,” whom he called “victims of terrorism,” he insisted that “first and foremost there needs to be punishment for these criminals.”

“We have much work to do on both,” Netanyahu said.

The other members of the committee who attended the meeting were Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and Social Welfare Minister Haim Katz.