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Changing the Laws to Protect Children Left Behind

Na’am met with Ministry of Justice representatives to discuss proposed laws to keep children out of the hands of the men responsible for their mothers’ murders

The father may be violent, he may have gotten away with having their mother murdered. But according to the courts, there was not enough evidence and no conviction. The mother’s family has no standing, no way to protect those children.

Na’am Arab Women in the Center is proposing two laws to change that situation. Na’am members met with law-making representatives of the Ministry of Justice, and they presented the stories of several families who not only had to endure the trauma of murder, but found themselves helpless in the face of violent men.

Ministry of Justice representatives in the Na'am offices in Lod

Bar Peleg, an Israeli journalist, interviewed Samah Salaime, head of Na’am, to publicize this problem. The following is a part of the article, which appeared in Haaretz Daily:

Among social workers, there are those who prefer a direct approach: “Murdering a mother paves the way for the father to take the children. According to the law he can do this even when all the evidence points to him being behind her murder,” says Salaime, social worker, activist and founder of Na’am. “These children grow up in the shadow of their mother’s murder, with the man who committed the murder. We force those children to live in violent, dangerous households, because the legal system was not able to convict their fathers of their crimes.”

Salaime, who treats some of those families following the murders and fights for their futures, believes the laws need to change. She believes that the minute an investigation into murder or violence gets underway, when there is already a history of complaints filed for domestic abuse, the courts must rule the father incompetent to care for his children. The sole criterion for deciding this cannot be simply a conviction of murder…To have the murderer of their mother raise children – that is a guarantee of severe developmental and emotional problems and hardship.”

She has another critical point: “The law must protect the rights of the family, including the victims of these crimes, in a reasonable manner. This includes the rights of grandparents and their ties to the children. It doesn’t even relate to the other ways in which mothers dies, from disease or accidents, for example.”

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