Feelings of shame and humiliation are preventing women in the Jewish community from reporting domestic abuse, according to Naomi Dickson, chief executive of Jewish Women’s Aid.
Speaking during a debate at the House of Commons, hosted by JWA and the Board of Deputies, Ms Dickson said: “There is nothing in Jewish religious text that condones domestic violence. Yet there is a shame and lack of access to services for women in our community which stops them coming forward.”
The debate, held on International Women’s Day on Wednesday, focused on whether faith communities help or hinder domestic abuse victims.
Jane Garvey, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, hosted the discussion, with speakers including Alison Saunders, Director of Public prosecutions, Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network, and Eilidh Whiteford, SNP MP for Banff and Buchan.
Ms Gohir said: “All the issues that stop Jewish women reporting violence are the same for the Muslim community.
“I think it’s important our communities work together on these issues because people do try to use faith to disempower women.”
Ms Saunders told the panel the CPS had worked “hard with religious leaders to understand the challenges” victims in faith communities experience.
She said while the number of prosecutions for domestic violence had increased, “prosecutors need to think about the communities where people come from and the issues they face.
“A lot of people don’t want to be humiliated and they worry reporting violence will make it worse.
“We think community support is vital in securing the right result.”
Ms Whiteford added: “When a faith community fails to support its victims they become isolated. It can result in a spiritual crisis for the victim, because faith is such an integral part of their identity.”