Siddur and gavel
Siddur and gavelNati Shohat/Flash 90

On Wednesday, the Constitution, Law, & Justice Committee of the Knesset held a special session to discuss the phenomenon of get-refusers and possible sanctions to be applied to them. In advance of the discussion, the committee published data on the number of get refusers in Israel, obtained from the various rabbinical courts, which showed that there are currently a total of 46 get refusers in Israel, both male and female, and that the country’s rabbinical courts are highly efficient at processing gets, especially when compared to the secular court system.

Responding to the data, the Forum for Family Organizations said in a statement: “Yet another feminist balloon has exploded. We are happy to see that the rabbinical courts are working swiftly and effectively to limit the number of cases of get refusal; it is very worrying to see how feminist organizations continue to raise outcries about a non-existent problem. It is important that the general public should know that among the small number of cases of get refusers, the number of women refusing to agree to a get is actually larger than the number of men who do so.”

The “Fathers for Justice” organization also issued a statement saying: “Unbearable suffering is caused a person when his or her spouse refuses to comply with a rabbinical court ruling regarding divorce. A female get refuser does not pay alimony to her husband, nor does she pay the ketubah costs; she is not driven out of her home. These penalties, applied by the law here in this country, are only applied to men. From the figures obtainable from the rabbinical courts, it is clear that more than half of those refusing gets are actually women. However, at today’s committee meeting, we were not permitted to present the figures according to gender.

“There is no balance here between the extent of the problem of female get refusers, and sanctions that are applied on them for the purpose of forcing them to receive a get. In this day and age, the slogan ‘equality’ is used solely against men, but the time has come to apply equality in family disputes and to treat men and women in the same manner.”

Also participating in the Knesset committee discussion was Pnina Omer, Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha organization, who said, “The most important figure that came up for consideration by the committee was the fact that there are between two and three thousand divorce files that remain unresolved for more than two years. This number illustrates just how big a problem this phenomenon truly is – rather than just the number of resolved cases or ones where Gets were secured, as have been presented by the Rabbinical Court. We are deeply appreciative to MK Gilad Kariv who has recognized the challenge and has convened this forum with the intent to find working solutions that will directly aid in curbing this troubling phenomenon.”