Mikveh attendants throughout Israel are being trained to spot and help battered women from the ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, community. The training is being run through the City Without Violence program in the Public Security Ministry.
The attendants who chose to join the program have been trained to report cases of women who are subject to domestic violence and are now in contact with municipal welfare, law enforcement, and educational authorities, who can provide the women with assistance.
The haredi community is a closed one and issues such as domestic violence and child abuse are routinely hushed up. When such issues are reported to the police, members of the community are loath to cooperate with the authorities, and so the problems persist.
Moran Yitzhak, director of the City Without Violence program in Beit Shemesh, said, “As soon as the project began, some mikveh attendants told us that in many cases women were embarrassed to enter the mikveh because of the bruises on their bodies.”
S., who has worked as a mikveh attendant for over 30 years, said that before she had completed the training, “even if you suspected that something was wrong or saw marks on the woman, you didn’t know where to turn.”
“The training taught us what to do when we encounter cases like these,” S. said.