Under a new law recently enacted by the Knesset, the rights of agunot (women unable to obtain a divorce) will be protected. Now, any divorce decree by the rabbinical courts must have adate by which the get (Jewish divorce) should be granted
"This is an important milestone in the fight for women's rights in Israel" explains Batia Kahana Dror, Director of Mavoi Satum (Dead End), which led the fight for the new legislation. Mavoi Satum is a member of NIF grantee International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR), which has taken the lead in pushing for a solution to the agunah problem for many years.
In Israel, where there is no civil marriage or divorce under Jewish, and thus Israeli, law a woman who does not receive a religious divorce from her husband is known as an agunah, or “chained woman” and cannot remarry.
The new law ensures that if the get it is not granted on time, the rabbinical court must reconvene and consider what sanctions, usually a fine, to impose. In addition, the rabbinical court will have to meet regularly to track the divorce’s progress.
Some rabbinical courts expressed anger at the legislation, which they see as eroding their autonomy. It will, for the first time, bind them to making progress in divorce cases which can drag on for years. The law was, however, formulated with the approval of the chief rabbinates and was sponsored by Orthodox Members of Knesset.
The actions of the International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR) have greatly reduced the numbers of women chained to their husbands by raising awareness of the problem, encouraging new legislation, urging the rabbinical courts to impose sanctions, and providing individual assistance to women needing a get.
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