What causes such difficulties for Afghan women?
Without a gett, a woman cannot remarry under Jewish law.
For many agunot, though, especially those seeking divorce from an abusive husband, getting a gett is about more than respecting tradition and avoiding shame: As Sara, who does not consider herself to be religious but describes herself as very traditional and spiritual, said: But I want to be clear of him [my husband], I want to be my own person.
Why should he get to have control? Why should he get to hold onto me? In some countries, especially in the diaspora, where rabbinical courts lack sufficient power and authority, defiant men have been publicly shamed, fined, kidnapped and assaulted by rabbis ostensibly seeking justice for chained women.
An ABC News investigation — part of an ongoing series exploring the complex links between religion and domestic violence — has found rising concerns that men are exploiting their advantage in the Jewish divorce process to control and traumatise women who have endured sometimes decades of violence and abuse.
Lawyers and advocates are warning the crisis has bled into the secular legal system, where the gett is being used as a weapon in civil divorce negotiations to blackmail women into giving up property and child custody.
This issue was brought to government attention decades ago, with the Family Law Council recommending in that legislative reforms be made swiftly to allow courts to withhold civil divorce until religious divorce had been granted. Now momentum is building following a recent landmark case in Victoria that classified gett refusal as family violence.
Rabbis and Jewish lobby groups are calling on the Government to urgently implement the reforms proposed in And they may have an ally in the Labor Party.
Rabbis must find modern legal solutions to what is an ancient problem, they say, and take a firmer stance against not just gett abuse but domestic violence, which remains poorly understood.
Many are also deeply frustrated that, for all the progress made by women in Judaism in recent decades, women are still being held hostage by discriminatory laws. There is little research on the prevalence and nature of gett refusal worldwide, and none in Australia, where nominally 91, people are Jewish.
This is partly because data are not routinely collected, and definitions of gett refusal can vary: In the United States and Canada, a study by the research firm Mellman Group found cases of agunot between and And a study by the Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women at Bar-Ilan University found a third of women seeking divorce in Israel had experienced threats to withhold or refusal of a gett.
Women who were married to abusive priests reveal their experiences of rape, control and humiliation. Talya Faigenbaum, principal lawyer and legal director at Faigenbaum Family Lawyers in Melbourne, says there has been an upsurge in recent years in the number and severity of cases of gett refusal in Australia and overseas.
The increase in gett abuse, she believes, can partly be attributed to an increase in divorce and the "stress and pressure" marriages are sustaining across the board.
While women can and do refuse to accept a gett — the Sydney Beth Din, for example, told ABC News it is currently dealing with two cases of gett refusal by a wife — experts say men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators.
The Melbourne Beth Din has processed divorces in the past two years, or just over one per week. Of those, he said, six are recusant husbands and two are wives. The consequences of not having a gett are also more serious for women than for men, who technically can remarry without one — if they obtain permission from rabbis.
Infor example, the New York Times published a story about Meir Kin, an American Jewish man who reportedly used the legal loophole to remarry, despite refusing to give his previous wife a gett.Feb 23, · When such marriages do form, the women become more likely to seek jobs beneath their potential or to stop working entirely, and the marriages are more likely to end in divorce.
Paradoxically. If you are looking for support, advice, safety information or referral to local services.
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