The management of Israel's rabbinical court system reported, Tuesday that the number of agunot (literally "chained women") who were granted religious divorces rose 68 percent in 2012, to 163 from 97 in 2011. Under Jewish law, a woman - unlike a man - needs a certificate of divorce from a religious court or proof she is a widow to remarry. In a number of cases, husbands disappear, leave the country or stay and refuse to grant a divorce.
The increase came as rulings for sanctions against husbands who refused to divorce their wives rose 48 percent, from 41 in 2011 to 60 in 2012. The sanctions include arrest warrants, which rose from 13 to 20 as three investigation companies were hired to locate refusing husbands in Israel and abroad. Other sanctions include delays in leaving the country and having bank accounts.