Changing Lives

August 23, 2017 | Blog | News From Israel

Ilana Kwartin: NA’AMAT 2017 Grant Recipient

Ilana Kwartin is an attorney and heads a legal practice near Ashkelon, Israel specializing in labor law, tort law and women’s rights. She was born in the former Soviet Union and made Aliyah with her family in 1987. She grew up in Jerusalem and attended Dror High School, Israel’s only religious school where girls and boys study together. During her army service, she served in an observation post in the Gaza Strip and was later made an officer in the IDF.

Ilana earned bachelor’s degrees in law and psychology from Hebrew University, and a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She also worked as a counselor at Camp Harlam, a Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate, researching “Honor-based Confinement” among married women in Israel.

Ilana, her husband and their four children live in Eliav, a newly-founded community for secular and religious in the southern Judean foothills.

“Honor-based confinement” is a term Ilana coined herself for a characteristic of some Israeli marriages.  “This phenomenon constitutes the invisible, mark-less, emotional confinement of wives by their husbands,” she explains. “Honor-based confinement results in the prolonged erosion of a women’s self-esteem through humiliation, contempt, belittling, degradation and verbal abuse. While Israel addresses physical violence and confinement through tort and penal law, the legally unaddressed, less-documented, invisible, emotional confinement is just as oppressing as it destroys a woman’s very essence of humanness and sense of dignity.”

Through interviews with Jewish Israeli women, Ilana has found that honor-based confinement affects women, young and old, religious and secular, from all cultural backgrounds and social strata. “Typical behaviors identified in my research include stalking; limiting access to financial resources and knowledge; confinement to traditional gender roles and spaces; usurpation of dreams and desires of self-fulfillment; and domination of personal and family decision-making,” she says.

Currently honor-based confinement has no legal definition in Israel leaving victims with little recourse. Ilana plans to use her fellowship grant for further research that she hopes will define the phenomenon within the legal discourse and result in a legislative.

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