The Knesset’s Subcommittee for the Examination of Claims of Legal Severity Against Men in the Areas of Welfare and Family held a stormy meeting on Tuesday to discuss the gender disparity in custody arrangements granted to divorced parents. While 35 percent of divorced fathers have custody of their children in the United States and European countries, one men’s rights activist said, in Israel only 2.3 percent have custody. “Are Jewish men that bad?” he asked rhetorically.
Shouting broke out when female social services representatives said that family violence is more often directed against women, and again when male activists said violence against men was ignored. Several men said that divorced women could easily file false claims of violence in order to win full custody, with one man calling the legal system “feminist and fanatic.” Lawyers joined the fray as well, with one lawyer saying her male clients “sit across from me and cry like babies... they want to see their children but aren’t allowed to.”
The meeting ended with calls to research the alleged phenomenon of false complains against men, and with warnings that the system must change. UTJ MK Avraham Ravitz warned the female social services representatives who were present that if they did not begin to allow the majority of fathers partial custody, the Knesset would create new laws to force a change.
To see a video of the meeting (in Hebrew), click here.