If it had seeped into the subcounseness of the policemen—who arrived last Saturday at Huna Street in Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood following the emergency call of Silvana Sagai—that a 13-year-old girl wouldn't call the police for no reason—we would not have parted with her so soon.
Sagai dialed the number of the police call center because she was afraid of her mother's former boyfriend, who had arrived at their apartment to collect his belongings. By the time the police arrived, he was already gone. The teenager told the officers that everything was fine, but beneath the surface there was great fear.
Going into details was all the police had to do in order to get to the bottom of the problem. Perhaps they would have tried to locate the ex-boyfriend, and warn him to stay away from the family. Maybe then he would have let go, who knows. But standard police procedure did not obligate officers to investigate the source of the girl’s fear. The fact that there is no reason to delve into details as to why a 13-year-old girl calls the police is something that needs to change—and that can only be achieved by a protest.
It’s not just the police that needs a shake-up. We, too, have to change our attitude. About a month ago in Netanya, during the Shiva (Jewish seven-day mourning period) of Aliza Shafak—who was murdered by her ex-husband Yitzhak Shafak—friends of the family and Aliza’s neighbors said they all knew about the domestic abuse taking place at the couple’s home. They saw the bruises on her face and heard her cries echoing throughout the neighborhood.
Even Shafak’s friends from Acre, where Aliza lived 18 years ago, knew about the violence in the family. However, no one complained or reported it to the police or to welfare services.
There is no point in trying to think about what would have happened if someone had reported or complained. Maybe the first couple of phone calls would have been handled carelessly. Maybe Aliza herself would not have agreed to cooperate. But perhaps if the abuse would have been persistently reported, it could have forced the authorities to intervene.
Therefore, it's important for women to rebel. Taking to the streets is a must—dressed in black, with banners, on the city streets, outside police stations, everywhere. "The first women’s protest in Israel" is a very important event, but it is also important for men to participate in this campaign. We all have to put our foot down and shout “Enough!”