Government Trains Mikvah Ladies To Spot Domestic Abuse
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Some state-employed mikvah attendants in Israel – it is unclear how many – are being trained to spot signs of domestic abuse and report it to police, Israel HaYom reported.
The program is meant to help battered women – most from the haredi community – who are too afraid to report the abuse or simply do not realize such reporting is possible and that there are resources available to help them.
The program is being administered by the City Without Violence program of Israel’s Public Security Ministry.
But joining the program is optional – not mandatory – and it is unclear how many mikvah attendants have joined it.
The mikvah attendants who have made the choice to join have been trained to report suspected cases of domestic violence and have an open chain of communication with various cities’ welfare, law enforcement, and educational authorities.
The haredi community is closed and issues like domestic violence and child abuse are routinely covered up – often by haredi rabbinic leaders.
But even when these crimes are reported to police, haredim rarely cooperate with any investigation, allowing abusers of all types to raom freely.
"As soon as the project began, some mikvah attendants told us that in many cases women were embarrassed to enter the mikvah because of the bruises on their bodies,” Moran Yitzhak, director of the City Without Violence program in Beit Shemesh, told Israel HaYom.
An unnamed woman identified only by the initial “S” has worked as a mikvah attendant for over 30 years. She said the new program was very important and gave mikvah attendants the tools necessary to help battered women.
“Even if you suspected that something was wrong or saw marks on the woman, you didn't know where to turn. The training taught us what to do when we encounter cases like these," she said.
Similar programs have been tried in worldwide the past, but most have failed due to pressure from haredi rabbis opposed to domestic abuse being reported to police without first getting permission from a top haredi rabbi or beit din (haredi religious court) to do so – permission that is very difficult to get and which often comes too late for police to effectively pursue the case.