The Rabbinical Court system, releasing statistics for the year 2009, announced that it had succeeded in obtaining Jewish divorce papers, known as gittin (singular: get), for 162 women whose husbands were withholding them.

Among them are 18 husbands who refused to give a get were located by private investigators in Israel, and four were similarly located abroad. In the other cases, emissaries of the Rabbinical Courts helped in “unchaining” the women and procuring the required signed papers from the recalcitrant husbands.

In 44 of the cases, the Rabbinical Courts imposed legal sanctions on husbands who wish to keep the women unable to marry. These included bans on leaving the country, managing personal bank accounts, receiving certain public-sector employment and receiving a driver’s license. Sanctions for prisoners include withholding of benefits normally granted to inmates.

Warrants for the arrest of six of the husbands were issued, and 58 “protection orders” were issued for women who fear their husbands’ violence.

It was also announced that divorces in Israel were down by 2.3 percent in 2009, and indications were that the trend was likely to continue this year: The number of divorce proceedings begun in 2009 was down by 1 percent. The divorce rate in Migdal HaEmek plummeted by 43 percent, compared with a more modest decrease rate of 3-7 percent in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeTzion – and a 6 percent increase in Jerusalem.