Women's Computer Class Program
We are Eritrean Women Community Center
The Eritrean Women's Community Center, located in South Tel Aviv, is in the heart of the neighborhood where many Eritrean asylum seekers live. The location is integral to providing access to those aiming to utilize the services provided by the center. The community center has become a symbol for the women who associate it with a sense of safety. The center is a place where they can feel comfortable, accepted and in control of their lives. The freedom from authoritative figures combined with the services provided and activities mandated allow for the center to be recognized by the community as a place where women can come at any time for any need.
The Women's Center was initially conceived by Zebib Sultan and a few other women from the community, upon completing a human rights course through Amnesty International Israel. Working alongside existing organizations in Israel and abroad, the Center was able to acquire the physical space and support necessary to open its doors in June 2012.
The center is currently headed by our director Smret Tekle, an Eritrean asylum seeker, community activist and mother. Smret is a key player in the work of the center and various community efforts. In collaboration with fellow Eritrean community leaders, as well as local and international NGOs, she is integral to designing and locating the necessary programs, initiatives, volunteers, workers, health services and much more for the community.
The country of Eritrea, located to the north of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa, is a repressive dictatorship. The U.N. described the situation in the country: “Crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts – have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic campaign since 1991 aimed at maintaining control over the population and perpetuating the Eritrean leadership’s rule.”
Tens of thousands of Eritrean men and women are held in arbitrary detention in appalling conditions, for calling for reform, practicing an outlawed religion like Pentecostal Christianity, or trying to avoid mandatory and indefinite national service which often includes forced labor and sexual violence. Countless detainees have died in custody and torture is commonplace. Most Eritrean women flee the country to avoid child marriages or sexual abuse or exploitation in the Eritrean military.
As a result of these dire conditions, hundreds of thousands of Eritrean men, women and children have escaped their country looking for safety and freedom. Smugglers and human traffickers take advantage of this market. During their journey to Israel, thousands of Eritrean men and women were held in trafficking compounds in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, until their families could pay ransom for their release. Hostages were subjected to brutal torture including electrocution, mass rape of women and men and branding. The New York Times, CNN, BBC and many other news outlets have covered in detail this brutal treatment of Eritrean refugees in the Sinai desert
Eritrean women in Israel traveled through the Sinai desert in Egypt in order to reach the border with Israel. This journey is notoriously dangerous as many refugees are held hostage by traffickers for extended periods of time until they are released in exchange for large sums of money. Many women are raped and the majority of individuals experience violence, torture, and a severe lack of basic needs along the way.
There are 7,000 Eritrean refugee women in Israel. About 3,000 of them experienced sexual assault and torture in the Sinai desert. All Eritrean women in Israel lack access to basic services including healthcare and welfare.
The Women's Center is the only place working to further community-based support structures for women. We offer a variety of direct services to help women struggling with past and current trauma. Our individual support services offer one-on-one assistance for vulnerable women with a special focus on single mothers. We run support groups led by trained social workers. We host community events to foster mutual solidarity and support on topics ranging from childcare to women’s health to domestic abuse. We hold monthly traditional coffee ceremonies, where women can come together in a supportive environment to talk about their struggles and offer support and advice.
Audit Committee Member
Audit Committee Member
Audit Committee Member
Media About Us
The Predicament of African Asylum Seekers in Israel
Times of Israel
We are very grateful to our supporters who make it possible for the center to provide it's life-changing services. With their financial, programmatic, and operational support and generosity we are able to continue to play an important role in the community and expand our reach.