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The cost of freedom: The fight for divorce in the Rabbinic Court

CM 03/05/2021

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The issue of Jewish divorce is a problem that has gained increasing awareness in recent years, and while Israeli legal systems continue to evade the issue, civil organizations have taken up the fight instead.

The Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ) is an Israeli organization dedicated to ending the injustices against women in the systems of religious law. Their fight for equality focuses on both community education and the legal system itself, where they represent women facing abuse in the rabbinic courts.
CWJ provide online resources and legal education for attorneys, making sure that there are as many legal professionals using their strategy of filing civil damage claims in get refusal cases as possible. This allows more women across the country a higher chance of achieving justice in a legal system designed to withhold it from them. Jewish law states that a woman cannot obtain a divorce, unless her husband provides her with a Jewish legal document, known as a get. In Israel, where legal courts are run according to Jewish law, this creates an ever increasing problem of men using the get to prevent his wife from gaining her freedom.
However, it is not just the get refusal at the hands of their husbands that these women have to worry about, it is the legal system itself. The Rabbinic court have juristriction over all affairs concerning marriage and divorce and they frequently contribute to the stress and injustice that agunot experience.
To this end, CWJ provide women and their legal professionals with consultations and representation in cases of rabbinic court abuse, which happen all too frequently.
One such case was documented in a thread of tweets from the CWJ twitter account, where they detailed the humiliation and abuse that a recent client had faced  at the hands of the rabbinic court.

While financial matters and other concerns had already been determined by the secular court, the get itself was the final step in the proceedings, and had to be granted by the rabbinic court. Despite this, and despite the criminal charges of domestic violence that the husband is currently facing, the rabbinic court seemed to actively overlook the urgency of the situation.
After hearing that she has been separated from her husband for three years, and has been living in a domestic violence shelter for the last three months, the rabbinic court questioned the woman on whether or not she could reconcile herself with her husband. They repeatedly pressed this issue throughout the proceedings, discrediting the threats on her life for which he has been criminally convicted for, and insisting that he would not be a danger were she to live nearby him.
As the hearing continued, the court appeared to begin using manipulative tactics against her. They implied that she had been living in a domestic violence shelter by choice and that she had been unreasonable. It wasn’t fair of her, they said, to remove the children from their father. 
The woman explained that her husband has only agreed to grant her divorce under certain conditions, ones which would make it hard for her to remove herself from his controlling behavior. Despite her fear that her life will be in danger if these conditions are agreed upon, the court forged ahead, going so far as to begin writing up an agreement which she adamantly insisted she did not want to sign.
Instead of listening to her fears, the rabbis overseeing the hearing began to press her. They contradicted her on every matter, telling her that this agreement will be in her best interest, and promising her that contrary to all the evidence, a criminally violent man does not pose any danger to her at all.
The extortion that women frequently face in court is an ongoing issue, and presents women with an impossible choice. When faced with abuse and manipulation on all sides, they all too often don’t know where to turn, and the pressure is too much. 
Women are being asked to give in to the demands of their abusers, and in doing so, to put their own lives in danger.
“No woman should have to risk her life to gain her freedom,” CWJ concluded on twitter. “We will not rest until every woman’s freedom is an inviolable right, and not a bargaining chip. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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