Shock rise in domestic violence

The number of Jewish women abused in their own homes has risen by a third in the past nine months, according to the charity Jewish Women's Aid.

Serious attacks, including cases of attempted murder and kidnap, have soared by more than 300 per cent since March last year.

The figures show a shocking increase since a call last March from leaders, including Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, for the community to stop turning a blind eye and "wake up" to the threat of domestic violence.

JWA has seen an increase in demand from women across the country for its community support service and women's refuge. The youngest reported victim in the past nine months was a 16-year-old assaulted by her boyfriend, the oldest was 83, and last week an 80-year-old woman contacted the charity following an attack by a 91-year-old perpetrator.

Between April and December last year JWA's support team helped 123 women - more than in the entire 2010-11 financial year, which saw 105 new clients come forward.

Monica Tuohy, JWA interim director, said the increases could be partly attributed to better awareness thanks to advertising campaigns at synagogues, community centres and in the JC, and improved training of police call handlers. She said the added stresses of the economic climate could also have led to increased attacks on women.

Between April 2010 and March 2011 JWA referred three of the most serious cases to special police units. Since April 2011 that number has risen to 13, and is likely to increase further with the charity expecting a flurry of new victims to seek help before the end of this month.

The charity's eight-room London refuge - for women who have fled violence - is permanently fully-occupied.

Ms Tuohy said Jewish women were now more prepared to come forward than ever before: "Women will not put up with what they did in the past."

Last updated: 12:17pm, January 12 2012