Fathers Cry at Domestic Violence Conference

Dramatic scenes in Ariel U., at the first-ever conference to show the multifaceted nature of domestic violence.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Raab Auditorium, 21.11.11
Raab Auditorium, 21.11.11
John Dori

A conference titled "The Other Faces of Domestic Violence" that was held at Ariel University Center Monday was an unusually dramatic one, as academic conferences go.

Several fathers who have been unable to see their children for protracted periods of time because of spurious complaints of violence lodged against them by ex-wives told their wrenching stories. One father barely managed to hold back his tears as he told of a young son he has not seen for eight years.

Hosted by AUC's Criminology Department under Prof. Sarah Ben-David, the conference was hailed by some participants as a historic one, for daring to challenge the "politically correct" approach to domestic violence that focuses exclusively on violence perpetrated by husbands and fathers.

Introduced by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beitenu), Head of the Knesset's Education Committee, and by the dean of AUC's School of Sociology, Prof. Yisrael Nebentzal, the conference coincided with a week in which the Knesset and women's organizations mark the UN's "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women."

It featured speakers on the variety of topics that fall under the heading of domestic violence, or intimate partner violence – including violence against children, violence against men, and violence against the elderly – as well as violence against women. 

Prof. Ben-David, Dr. Hagit Bonny-Noach and Dr. Inna Levy, all of AUC's Criminology Dept., went so far as to describe a "demonization" of men in modern Israeli culture that they compared to a "witch hunt" mentality. 

The audience at AUC's packed Ra'ab Auditorium heard data according to which Israel is a world leader in the percentage of parents – almost exclusively fathers – who are made to see their children under strict supervision in so-called "visitation centers." According to the data, which relies on information published by the Ministry of Welfare, a whopping 25% to 33% of children in divorce cases that involve social workers' intervention are sent to "visitation centers" to see one of their parents instead of meeting them in a natural environment..

The corresponding statistic for the US was reportedly between 1% and 2%.

The periods of time in which a parent sees his children only in "visitation centers" can last months or years, and parents who have undergone this experience say that it is an excruciating one, which can wind up damaging the parent-child relationship for good.

The feminist voice was also present at the conference. Criminologist Ronit Lev-Ari, former Head of the Authority for Advancement of Women in the Prime Minister's Office, rejected the claim that a relatively high rate of male suicide has anything to do with an anti-male cultural bias, and said that suicide itself is a form of violence.

One of the speakers was Lt. Col Orna Nachmani Arazi, Head of the Police's Department for Victims of Crime, which is in charge of domestic violence investigations. In the course of her lecture, a father who is prevented from seeing his daughter rose from his seat in the audience and accused the police of bias. In response, Arazi she told him that his was "an unusual case" and defended the police's policy of automatically seeing the woman as victim in cases of alleged domestic violence.

Other speakers included Dr. Yoav Mazeh of the Ono Academic College; Former Head of the Police's Youth Division, Dr. Susy Ben-Baruch; Dr. Avi Bitzur and Arutz Sheva's Gil Ronen.