Israel, Justice, Sex & Gender

Important Bill for Agunah Rights Passes in Knesset

Today the Knesset voted to modify the laws regarding the division of property in divorce cases.
Up until now, property was divided only after a husband gave a get (a religious divorce), making it very easy for recalcitrant husbands to extort their wives and make the granting of a divorce conditional, based on her agreement to give up far more than her fair share (often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and/or landing her in dire financial straits.) A woman whose husband refuses to grant her a divorce is called an agunah, a chained woman, because she is chained to the marriage until he decides otherwise.
Now, property will be able to be divided when the marriage is declared over by a judge, even before a get is given. This means that the amount of leverage that a recalcitrant husband has will be significantly reduced, paving the way for many more equitable divorce settlements and many, God willing, fewer agunot.
Here is the story from Ynet.
In related news, a Jerusalem Family Court, in an unprecedented ruling, ordered a man who refused to divorce his wife for 10 years to pay her $158,000 in damages. Story here.
Here, below, is the official statement from I.C.A.R. (the International Council on Agunah Rights) on the passage of the Knesset bill:

A historical moment towards a solution to the plight of Agunot and
Mesuravot Get!
Today, Wednesday, the 5th of November, The “Spouses (Property Relations) Law (Timing of Property Division) Amendment Bill – 2006” passed its third and final vote in the Knesset.
The amendment is truly revolutionary in that it reduces by a large degree the power of the party refusing to grant or receive the get to demand concessions from the other side regarding their legal share in the marital property in return for their agreement. The amendment states that it is possible to divide the marital property of divorcing couples before the actual get is granted in the Rabbinical Courts.
This is a tremendous achievement of ICAR – The International Coalition for Agunah Rights, who drafted and initiated this bill. The Amendment reduces the possibility of trading financial rights in return for the get and corrects a 30 year (!) injustice against women, who are usually weaker party, financially.
ICAR believes that this amendment is a turning point on the way to a more equitable divorce process between the sexes in Israel, and hopes that the Knesset members and the political parties that
supported the amendment will continue their support in their platform and in the next Knesset.
A special thanks to all those that worked long and hard for this amazing success! Keep up the good work!

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