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Israeli, US ambassadors urge world to adopt new technologies in fight against domestic violence

“We call on all countries to adopt the necessary tools to bring an end to it,” says Erdan

Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan and US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Lili Ben-Ami Gal Gadot and Linor Abargil (Photo: Gilad Erdan/Facebook)

Israeli Ambassador to the United States and United Nations Gilad Erdan and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the world to unite and adopt the latest technologies and innovations in the fight against domestic violence, during an event at the UN in New York on Wednesday.

Together with the Michal Sela Forum and the UJA-Federation of New York, the event was part of the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women. The focus of the forum was battling domestic violence through innovation and technology.

“Domestic violence is a despicable and horrifying phenomenon and eliminating it from our homes and societies must be a priority for all of us,” said Ambassador Erdan. “We need to fight this in the same way we fight against COVID-19 and terrorism. Terror at home is terror. We can no longer wait for a life to be ruined or taken before we act.”

He continued, “When I served as minister of public security, I used our Israeli advanced technologies, together with many intelligence agencies and the police, to develop algorithms and other technologies that helped us to predict who is going to be the next lone-wolf terrorists, and the same can be applied to this phenomenon, to try to track and to try to predict who is going to be the next abuser – the next violent man that will attack his partner.”

“There’s a digital bracelet and many other devices that we can plant at home that can track changes in behavior and then alert the police or one someone from her family if it recognizes a real change in her behavior,” Erdan said. 

He urged UN member states to modify and apply existing technologies to fight against domestic violence, suggesting that same wiretapping capabilities used to prevent terrorist attacks be adapted to preventing the next case of terror in the home.

“We call on all countries to adopt the necessary tools to bring an end to it,” he said.

Israel actress Gal Gadot spoke at the event making a special appeal to unite in the fight violence against women.

“More than ever, this event today is so essential. It is time for a global forum like the United Nations to become involved in such an essential fight – a battle between life and death,” said Gadot. “We must share our knowledge and tools to prevent even one more woman from being a victim of abuse. Alone, we’re strong. But together, we’re stronger.”

President of Google.org, Jacquelline Fuller, announced that the social media giant’s philanthropic arm would provide a $300,000 grant to the Michal Sela Forum, an Israeli NGO created in memory of its namesake, a woman murdered allegedly by her husband in 2019, with their infant daughter in the house. The husband is awaiting trial.

The grant is part of a strategic collaboration between the Forum and Google, to design and deliver an end-to-end tech empowerment program for survivors of all types of domestic violence. The program – “Nothing About Us Without Us” – will provide participants with technological and business skills and tools to enable them to create safety solutions and improve their economic livelihoods. Activities will include innovation workshops, the second edition of the Michal Sela Safe@home hackathon and an accelerator program tailored to developing projects aimed at domestic violence prevention.

Lili Ben-Ami, chairperson of the Michal Sela Forum and Sela's sister, was moved to see “the wall-to-wall international support for the efforts led by the Michal Sela Forum, to save the lives of women through innovation and technology.”

“Tonight's event at the UN is the culmination of a collaboration with Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who has been involved from the beginning in standing with us at the forefront of this innovative move,” she said.

Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Jewish Federation of NY, said it was appropriate to gather at the United Nations for such an occasion.

“Domestic violence is an issue that transcends all borders. As we know from our work supporting domestic violence survivors both here in New York and in Israel, this issue touches people of every nationality, ethnicity and economic background,” he said. “We're here to lay bare what is often hidden and to create a path forward for our people who feel they have no way out.”

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Asa Ragnar and European Union Ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog, who chairs the UN's Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls' Organization, also participated in the event. It was attended by dozens of ambassadors, senior UN officials, employees of technology companies around the world and representatives of the Jewish community.

A recording of the event can be viewed here

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