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Knesset members back mandatory life sentence for convicted wife-killers

So far this year, 25 women have been killed by their spouses or relatives, sparking public outrage over authorities’ perceived helplessness in dealing with violence against women

View of the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
View of the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice ‎Committee on Wednesday voted in favor of imposing a ‎life sentence on men convicted of murdering their ‎wives.‎

The decision was made during a discussion on an ‎amendment to the Israeli penal code, stating that the ‎murder of a woman by her spouse would be considered ‎a crime to which aggravating circumstance apply and ‎which carries an automatic life sentence. ‎

The amendment is slated to be presented for a ‎Knesset vote in the next few days.‎

The session was called against the backdrop of ‎growing protests by women over authorities’ ‎incompetence in dealing with domestic-violence ‎cases.‎

Twenty-five women have been murdered by their ‎spouses or relatives so far in 2018. ‎

Last week, tens of thousands of women took to the ‎streets demanding the government allocate ‎250 ‎million shekels ($67 million) to an emergency ‎‎program to combat violence against women.‎

“Violence is cross-sectoral. There is no doubt that ‎the murder of women reflects a distorted worldview ‎that we must act against by means of tougher ‎punishment. Allowing the law to stand as is would be ‎an unacceptable miscarriage of justice,” Yesh Atid ‎Party MK Yael German said.‎

Habayit Hayehudi MK Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli said, “If ‎an Arab murdered his sister in a so-called ‘honor ‎killing,’ he gets a life sentence, but if a Jew kills ‎his wife, he doesn’t? We have to apply aggravating ‎circumstance ‎to this issue [spousal murder].”‎

Justice Ministry attorney Tamar ‎Bornstein expressed reservation about the move, ‎saying ”none of the women murdered could have been ‎saved by this amendment. What we need are ‎preventative programs that focus on education and ‎creating women’s shelters.”

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