Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

Misogyny, thy name is Ben Gvir

Credit: Hanay via Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Hanay via Wikimedia Commons

Wafaa’s ex-husband was given a 45-day restraining order. He allegedly killed her in November 2020, right after his restraining order was up. Rabab was murdered in July 2022. She had filed numerous complaints with the police concerning her violent ex-husband, but the police had no way to protect her. Darya was killed in Haifa; her husband was under indictment for threatening her.

Could ankle monitors have saved these women? In the hands of a prudent judge, they might have done so. If Wafaa had known her ex-husband was approaching her, she might have alerted the police. Abu Siam was likely murdered by a contract killer or relative of her ex. For her, the fact that her ex was conveniently out of the country might have been a warning sign. Darya still shared an apartment with her husband: A monitoring option might have given her the courage her to take her children and move out.

Using ankle monitors to enforce restraining orders on violent men has been adopted in several countries. They are not perfect; they’ll work best if they are adopted as part of a whole range of measures to protect women. But the one thing they do is give some power back to women – power over their own lives. When women know their abuser is approaching, they have the option to decide how to act: They can alert the police or take other actions to protect themselves.

His version of the law will apparently make it so difficult for a judge to hand down a ruling  for a man to be monitored, it will rarely be applied

MP Itamar Ben Gvir insisted members of the coalition vote against a law giving judges leeway to slap ankle monitors on men suspected of domestic violence. His claim: He is proposing his own law. He’s concerned about the rights of men. His version of the law will apparently make it so difficult for a judge to hand down a ruling for a man to be monitored, it will rarely be applied.

Opposition members were quoted as saying this government does not put the lives of women high on their priority list. Women’s organizations spoke out as well, saying the blood of the next woman killed will be on their hands. But I would go a step further and say that this coalition is openly misogynist. It is not just this latest travesty. As they are reducing the power of civil courts to protect women and children, the coalition is, at the same time, shoring up the powers of the religious courts. These courts are not just patriarchal, they actively weaken the status of women and can reduce them, in the case of divorce, for example, to miserable victimhood.

There are fewer women than ever in positions of power on the national level, and that is not a mistake. The sight of a handful of female Knesset members waving electronic bracelets yelling “Busha! (for shame!) is a blip in our ongoing national free-for-all.

Women in handmaids’ outfits will surely be at the next demonstration, and the one after that. They show up to remind us that undermining the justice system will especially hurt women (particularly those who might have benefited from a monitoring system). But now their presence has much more frightening connotations. We are on the precipice of a slippery slope. In this case, the Knesset voted down a law that would have given women a bit of power. How long till the misogynists start to actively take our power away from us?

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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