The Ministry of Public Security and the Michal Sela Forum signed an innovative and groundbreaking agreement to strengthen the resilience of threatened women by means of protection dogs and a protection and support package.
From left: Minister Bar Lev, CEO of the Michal Sela Forum, Director-General of the Ministry
As part of the Ministry of Public Security's responsibility to protect and safeguard victims of offenses, including victims of domestic violence offenses, who are in danger and facing the threat of murder by their intimate partners, the decision was made to enter into a unique form of cooperation with the Michal Sela Forum. Threatened women in this project will receive a combination of lifesaving protection dogs for women at high risk and a protection and support package for them and their family members. In this way, the Ministry of Public Security creates additional alternatives for women, apart from the shelter for women victims of violence and their children, the only option available until now. This will allow women to create a life routine, including managing a home and family and having a career. Made possible by a tailor-made suit of protection adapted to the women victims of violence. If the pilot succeeds, the State of Israel will become one of the world leaders in offering women in the grips of violence additional solutions apart from a shelter, and enable them to remain at home and protected. The joint agreement, valued at NIS 2 million, will go towards the implementation of innovation and technology in a way that reduces and eradicates domestic violence. The novel projects were developed by the Michal Sela Forum, which proposed that the Ministry of Public Security participate in them. The projects were built by the Michal Sela Forum's security and domestic violence experts, and will provide advanced protection to 82 threatened women and to 246 children in the course of the coming year, and allow them to continue with their lives. The two projects are designed for women threatened by an intimate partner who does not live with that partner. The project will be accompanied by a measurement and evaluation study that will be conducted by the Bureau of the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Public Security. In the Michal Sela Dogs project, lifesaving protection dogs will be given to twenty threatened women at high risk. The project was built in collaboration with former members of the IDF Oketz Unit (canine special forces) and domestic violence experts. The dog is given to the woman for life and lives as a family member and constant friend at her side 24/7. The woman and the dog receive six months' professional training, and the woman receives equipment, toys, food and insurance for the dog. The dog is a lifesaver friend that primarily affords physical security, but that also provides emotional security, healing from the trauma and an answer to loneliness. So far, the Michal Sela Forum has given protection dogs to three threatened women and their children. In the joint "Sayeret Michal" ["Michal Special Forces"] project, 62 threatened women will receive an "iron suit" free of charge. The services include a security guard company to protect the woman's home, installing of a camera and panic button and patrol guard 24/7, as well as: ten lessons in self-defense and a warning letter from a law firm to the person making the threats. The project was constructed by the Michal Sela Forum, former members of the General Security Services (Shabak) and domestic violence experts. To date, the Michal Sela Forum has added such protection to the homes of 32 threatened women. Both projects are innovational and the first of their kind, with the Michal Sela Forum their developer and sole operator in Israel. The Michal Sela Dogs project is the only long-term solution in the world for protecting a threatened woman. During contacts to develop cooperation, the Michal Sela Forum held a demonstration day at Kfar Truman in February for senior officials from the Ministry of Public Security and from the Israel Police. The participants observed the operation of the innovative projects developed by the Michal Sela Forum NGO. The meeting included a live demonstration of a Michal Sela Dog providing protection against a violent assailant and a meet-up with a threatened woman who had stayed in a shelter twice with her children. At the end of the meeting, Ministry Director-General Tomer Lotan instructed Ministry staff to build the cooperation and adopt the solutions in a joint initiative. Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev: "When I became Minister, I set myself the key task of combating violence against women and protecting them. Consequently, several months ago we established ties with the Michal Sela Forum under Lili Ben Ami, a move that represents an important step in our ability to save the lives of threatened women. As a society, we cannot tolerate this, and therefore the Ministry's partnership in this innovative, important and unique project and in providing assistance in the form of protection dogs for threatened women is an obvious step, as far as I am concerned. I am determined to leave no stone unturned and to make every effort to grant security to women whose lives are in danger". Tomer Lotan, Director-General of Ministry of Public Security: "Tackling the phenomenon of violence against women is a key goal declared by Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev. The Ministry of Public Security will continue to work tirelessly to minimize the violence and to grant threatened women a safer and better protected living space. I applaud the strong ties with the Michal Sela Forum. This vital project will aid women living with the feeling of being under constant threat and helplessness and give them a more effective sense of security when they feel that they are in real danger. Lili Ben Ami, CEO of the Michal Sela Forum: "The murder of women is not preordained. The Michal Sela Forum has set a target of zero murders a year, and we will not stop until we reach that target. That is why we have developed several creative and innovative projects to save the lives of women in their own home. The Ministry of Public Security, in joining in the running of our flagship projects, is not only expressing faith in us, but also in the security capabilities of the State of Israel. These projects are already saving lives today, so it is only natural, even vital, that we join hands to save the lives of as many women and children as possible. I welcome the willingness of the Ministry of Public Security to lead the change and to adopt innovative solutions in order to save the lives of threatened women. Together we will prevail and eliminate violence towards women in their own homes".