Currently, when Europe is closing down because of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, we are already well aware that Corona not only affects health; it has a serious impact on society as well. Data has shown that prolonged closures bring about an increase in gender-based violence; for example, data collected during the two closures in Israel reveal a sharp increase in the number of incidents of domestic violence and calls for help.
We in Nivcharot believe in the importance of promoting awareness to the phenomena of gender violence in times of uncertainty as well as in normal periods, so during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this past November we launched a campaign called: "For goodness’ sake, you do not have to be silent.” (In Hebrew this slogan is a play on words: Lema’am hashem means “for goodness’ sake” and also “for your good name.”)
As ultra-Orthodox women, we know that ultra-Orthodox women who are victims of gender-based violence encounter an additional barrier that makes it difficult to seek help. This barrier is known as “your good name.” In closed communities like ours, maintaining the good name of our family is of utmost importance; you don’t wash your dirty linen in public. In addition to the fear of “what people will say,” there is an even greater fear that a tarnished family reputation can later decrease the chances of securing good marriage matches for your children.
Knowing the realities, we reach out to women and call on them to overcome this barrier and seek help before it is too late. The campaign is supported by a landing page which features the phone numbers of hotlines and help centers for victims of domestic violence.
The campaign was advertised on social media and in ultra-Orthodox WhatsApp groups; moreover, Rachel Brosh, a representative of the organization and a survivor of domestic violence gave a radio interview.
Following the campaign, we received calls , some from former victims of violence, who expressed a wish to be active in the organization and help promote awareness.
And how is this connected to me?
Even if you are not a victim of domestic violence, it is very important to be aware of what other women in the community may be going through: keep your eyes open, talk and write about these issues and promote the idea that it is legitimate to ask for help, because we are no longer silent. increase the legitimacy of asking for help, because we are no longer silent, for goodness’ sake!