“There is no Comparison”
by Pnina Omer
Jerusalem Post Op-Ed – 12/7/2017
Earlier this week, Kan – the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation – aired a segment called “Trapped Men,” which exposed the issue of men being denied a get (a religious divorce).
The report showed that female recalcitrance is a widespread yet silenced phenomenon, because women’s organizations are greedy and need to continue making enormous financial and political capital from the plight of agunot (“chained” women whose husbands will not grant them a get). Ultimately, this was an attempt, under the guise of an investigative report, to misrepresent the issue of aginut (being chained to marriage) as a war between the sexes. That, however, is not the truth; the truth is that it’s a war between absolute villains and their victims, whom they have trapped in bonds of matrimony.
Divorce recalcitrance is despicable and it must be fought, and it makes no difference whether the recalcitrant side is the man or the woman – both are contemptible, and both make use of the authority they’ve been given in a way that goes against both the spirit of Jewish law and the spirit of common morality, which champions the dignity and freedom of every human being.
The solutions we have been working on and advancing, which aim to mitigate the problem – arrangements like prenuptial agreements and the annulment of kiddushin (marriage vows) – cross gender lines. They protect both men and women from assuming the status of aginut.
We feel the pain that anyone denied a get has endured, and we demand that the religious courts take action to prevent it from recurring. However, it’s crucially important for everyone to understand that although men and women who refuse to give their spouse a get are equally contemptible, their victims’ situations are simply incomparable…..
Pnina Omer is the director of OTS’s Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline