HEALTHY FAMILIES PROGRAM
This program aims to function from within the Eritrean Women’s Community Center to support the large number of women experiencing domestic abuse. Currently, these women are most often isolated and unable to access critical social support. Additionally, being refugees, they lack the traditional means of resolving conflict through their religious and family networks, as they are accustomed to doing in Eritrea.
The lack of legal rights, basic services, and a dramatic shift in household power dynamics in Israel are factors influencing the considerable rise in domestic abuse among Eritrean refugees. It is a result, in part, of the breakdown of community and family structure as well as the high levels of stress and anxiety associated with living as a refugee in Israel. It has been found in many countries that domestic violence often escalates in direct proportion to the pressures of refugee life.
Additionally, due to a lack of community structure, the true scale of violence among refugees remains unknown, as a great number of incidents are never reported. Furthermore, without the community and extended family structure that would exist in their home country, these families are far less likely to resolve or deal with these issues.
Public seminar in Levinsky Park about domestic abuse (August 2013)
Follow-up meeting after the event in Levinsky Park (August 2013)
It is clear that both men and women within the community must address domestic abuse in order to support others in the community. Additionally, it is essential that individuals, especially women, have a base upon which they can rely in the event that they experience or fear experiencing domestic abuse. The women’s center aims to be this safe space from which individuals at risk can come for recourse as well as be the place where preventative measures can be taken against domestic abuse within the Eritrean refugee community.
Many Eritrean women in Israel are paralyzed by the issue of domestic abuse. Quietly suffering at home, they cannot come to the Women's Center to join our other activities because of the violence and shame they experience daily. By addressing domestic violence, we hope to empower the women's community as a whole, allowing them to improve their lives and move on to other issues. We believe that by training support workers and working with them to develop comprehensive programming, we can reach a maximum number of Eritrean men and women who together will address the emotional and difficult issue of domestic abuse.
Women’s Group in Collaboration with ASSAF:
The EWCC is currently collaborating with the organization ASSAF to create a psycho-social support group. Meetings are facilitated by our volunteer, Nebyat, along with a therapist from ASSAF organization. We plan to continue the project in 2016.