Prof. Zeev Weinstock of the University of Haifa, one of the world's leading experts on violence between spouses, revealed this week the truth about violence between spouses, a truth hidden from the public.
Weinstock made an emotional speech at the first ever meeting of the Distributive Justice and Social Equality Committee, headed by MK Mickey Zohar (Likud). "For almost 50 years we have known that men's violence towards women takes place in similar proportions to the violence that women use against men in intimate relationships, in almost every culture and society that we know," said Weinstock, "from traditional societies to liberal Western societies."
"In addition, we know that in the motivations for violence, there is no difference between men and women. For the same reasons that men beat women, women beat men. The results are different, because of the differences between men and women, and men's physical endurance - they are injured less and therefore arrive less to the emergency rooms. So the visibility of the problem is very high in the case of women, but the motivations and the violent behavior are not a peculiarity of either particular gender."
The expert also told the committee about a study that determined that the women who are most at risk of being harmed by men are those who themselves engage in physical violence against men.
Automatic cataloging of men as violent
Despite these data, Professor Weinstock explained, systemic treatment in cases of violence between spouses refers to women automatically as victims of violence, while men are always labeled as perpetrators of violence - "Even in cases where this is not true at all. Even in cases where it is the opposite. Even in cases where it is mutual."
"The system today is structured to deal with the violence of men against women, and it does not intervene in cases where women are violent towards men. Even in cases where women are violent toward men, the women are always treated as if they are the victim, and the victim is treated as if he were the aggressor."
Prof. Weinstock proposed changing the handling of domestic violence complaints by making the police and social workers first determine whether the man is violent, the woman is violent, or if the violence is mutual, and only then would they proceed with further treatment.
Weinstock also said that, contrary to the public image of what is happening in Arab society, there is also a widespread phenomenon of women's violence against men. "We know that even in Arab society today, women are violent," he stressed. "I'm talking about physical violence, women beating men at rates similar to those where men beat women."
"A minor bump on the wing"
A representative of the Social Affairs Ministry at the hearing, Hagai Moyal, who oversees the system for dealing with domestic violence, denied Prof. Weinstock's statements. According to him, treatment is also adapted to violent women and men who are victims of violence.
In a hearing held on Monday, hope was repeatedly expressed that MK Zohar will hold a series of additional discussions on the issue of men's distress, in order to put an end to the violation of this large population's basic rights. Dr. Gavriel Bukovsa of the Peres Academic Center told MK Zohar in the discussion: "You'll get hit by shrapnel but you're strong enough to withstand it." MK Zohar responded with a smile that he is already portrayed negatively in the media, so that from his point of view, it is at most a "minor bump on the wing."