Israel’s D-ID Uses AI To Give A Voice To Victims of Domestic Violence

A chilling video showing the faces of five Israeli women who were murdered by their husbands has gone viral in a grisly social media campaign that has brought them back to life after death. With artificial intelligence and animation capabilities from Israeli “creative reality” startup D-ID, the videos use each victim’s voice, as well as realistic facial features and gestures, to convey the message that someone living in the reality of the Domestic abuse can and should come out before it’s too late.

The project, nicknamed Hear our voices It was created in response to a global and local increase in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic, and in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.

Using the deep learning technology of the AI ​​startup, D-ID captured the faces, voices and gestures of the late Michal Sela, the late Esther Aharonovitch, the late Marin Haj Yechieh, the late Esther Barhani, and the late Sagit. Ozeri, as described. their own marital difficulties that led to verbal and physical abuse from their spouses. They also encouraged other women experiencing similar relationships.

The five victims of domestic violence from the Hear Our Voices campaign. (Hebrew)

“I was Michal Sela. In 2019, I was killed by the man who was my husband. Today, I call you, listen to my voice, ”says Sela in the haunting clip. Here It is an English version of the video.

Sela is perhaps the best known of the girls featured in the clip, and her death shocked the Israeli public when it occurred in October 2019. Last month, the Jerusalem District Court found her husband Eliran Malul guilty of stabbing and killing her. . in front of her young daughter in the Jerusalem suburb of Motza. Since her death, Sela’s sister, Lily Ben-Ami, has been actively involved in spreading her story and has become a leading voice for women in Israel. She established the Michal Sela forum, a non-profit organization with the goal of using technology “to save the next murder victim, through creative thinking, using prevention and real-time technologies, and raising awareness of the warning signs in relationships, “says the official forum site. Since then, Ben-Ami has carried out a series of hackathons addressing domestic violence and hosted participants from Israel’s tech ecosystem who offer solutions, create initiatives, and help raise awareness of domestic abuse. Ben-Ami released the video at a UN panel and they have since gone viral, according to an announcement by D-ID.

The women (from left to right): Sagit Ozeri, Esther Ahronowitz, Marin Haj Yechieh, Esther Bahrani and Michal Sela. Courtesy

According to a study published this month According to the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), reports of domestic violence increased by 315 percent in Israel in 2020, during the first year of the COVID pandemic. According to the data, 26 murders were committed, a significant increase from 17 the previous year. The increase in calls for help to Israel’s domestic violence hotline was staggering – up to 5,866 from 2,286 last year. More than half of those calls concerned spousal violence. The Israeli police also recorded 20,140 incidents of dating violence and threats in 2020.

The director of WIZO’s Division for the Advancement of Women, Rivka Neumann, told The Media Line that the rise in domestic violence is directly related to the pandemic and occurred in all sectors of Israeli society.

The bell

The campaign was started by Shiran Melamdovsky Somech, a social technology entrepreneur, who created it in collaboration with the Israeli boutique advertising agency DIBOOR, and is based on D-ID’s artificial intelligence technology in collaboration with the Center for Local Government. . They also collaborated with Facebook Israel (Meta) and several other Israeli high-tech companies such as Natural Intelligence, Outbrain, and Cognate.

fighting domestic abuse Shiran Somech
Shiran somech

“The Michal Sela Forum is always talking about the integration between technology and social activities against domestic violence. This is how I came up with the idea because I, my friends and many women in general have been exposed to dangerous relationships with jealous and obsessive and harassing partners. At that moment, you don’t know that it is a dangerous relationship. We found out about this later, ”she tells NoCamels,“ a lot of other women are in those kinds of relationships and they don’t know that their life is in danger. So this is our main message. “

“It is also very important to bring up the issue of the breakup for security reasons because most of the violence and murders have to do with the issue of the woman who wants to break up,” he adds. “The campaign is to bring back the lives of those women and share their ideas and messages and what they would do differently today. We can listen to the story, look them in the eye, and learn from their mistakes. “

Gil Perry, CEO of D-ID, worked on video recreation technology with co-founders Sella Blondheim, current COO, and Eliran Kuta, current CTO. His company, D-ID, started as a “de-identification” startup and designed the first facial image de-identification solution to protect images and videos from facial recognition software. Later, he went on to use deep learning algorithms, image processing, and neural networks to animate photos, facilitate video production, and create viral video experiences.

D-ID started this project “almost a year ago,” Perry tells NoCamels. “It was immediately obvious that we had to do it,” he adds.

Perry explains that the way the technology works is that the team needs to shoot a video around a single image. “In this particular example, we filmed famous Israeli actresses who acted like the women we see in the video, and then, using our algorithms, we created ways that those algorithms can figure out how to mimic every micro gesture on the actors’ faces, in photos, “he explains,” You get the highest quality video of this person. “

The Israeli actresses who played each role were Mali Levi, an actress known from the movie Atomic Falafel, who played Michal Sela, Ruth Asrasai, who played Esther Barhani, Luna Mansur, who played Marin Haj Yechieh, Esther Ahronowitz, who played Evelin Hagoel, and Hila Saada, who played Sagit Ozeri.

Founders of D-ID from left to right: Eliran Kuta, Gil Perry and Sella Blondheim.  Photo: Inbar Levi
Founders of D-ID from left to right: Eliran Kuta, Gil Perry and Sella Blondheim. Photo: Inbar Levi

“We think it is very important, first of all, to have professional actors to portray these women, because it is very, very sensitive. And because these women represent themselves a free and strong woman, and we want to make sure that is part of the message, ”says Melamdovsky Somech.

“The future of the idea and the direction we are going is that we have a vision to create realistic, full-length, 3D digital characters. People today talk about virtual reality, the metaverse and that kind of thing. You will be able to interact with people, real people, avatars and people who are not here, in the most realistic way, ”says Perry.

victim of domestic abuse Sagit Ozeri
Sagit ozeri

Perry explains that the families of the featured women were very important to the core of the campaign. They help with the script, the photos, the voice and then the video. It is important to know their opinions and that they are part of the process.

She refers to Sarit Ozeri’s father, who was so moved the first time the finished product was shown to the families of the victims, he said: “It is as if I had been given a gift. It was a gift to have her one more minute. “

Liron Ozeri, Sagit Ozeri’s brother, spoke to NoCamels about his reaction to the voice clip with his older sister, who was 23 when she died after being strangled by her partner in Tel Aviv.

“Actually, the project had twice the impact,” he says, “First is giving families the opportunity to have this moment with their loved ones and to see and hear them again. And the second is to help other women and show them how it sounds and feels and be aware of the signs. “

“What is important to emphasize here, for me, is that when we incorporate D-ID, one of the main principles that we have for us is to get it right,” says Perry, “These are the things that make you want to wake up. tomorrow and make D-ID so proud. In addition to being part of Startup Nation, we are part of society and that is our place to help. If we can do that, save and help even one woman, it means the world. It means everything. “

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