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Husband to remain behind bars (illustration)
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Divorce recalcitrant gets unlimited jail term
After serving 10 years for refusing to give his wife a 'get', husband sent back to prison by rabbinical court – until he gives in
In an unprecedented ruling, the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court has sentenced a divorce recalcitrant to an unlimited prison term – until he agrees to give his wife a "get".

 

The man had already served a 10-year prison sentence, and yet was adamant not to grant his wife a divorce.

 

He was released from jail several days ago, after serving the most severe punishment the court is authorized to sentence a husband to for refusing to divorce his wife – 10 years in prison. He survived tough sanctions, including solitary confinement, but wouldn't give in.

 

About two months ago, during a court session, the judges said they were under the impression that "the husband is encouraged by the fact that the 10-year prison term is about to end".

 

They decided to place him in solitary confinement for the entire Passover holiday, including the Seder night – but that didn't help either, and the man stuck to his refusal not to give his wife a divorce.

 

Enforcing obedience

On the eve of his release, the woman asked that he be given another punishment, for fear that she would be chained to her marriage forever, but his lawyers argued that the court no longer had the authority to send him to jail and therefore he must be set free.

 

The judges – Rabbi Israel Yifrach, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil and Rabbi Yosef Goldberg – stood by the woman and for the first time made use of a different law, which allows for the husband to be jailed for an unlimited period of time.

 

The law, "Forcing obedience," authorizes all religious courts to enforce their rulings through a fine or unlimited prison term. The man was sent back to jail until he agrees to give his "chained" wife a divorce.

 

The use of this provision of law, enacted in 1981, is for the enforcement of the delivery of documents and upholding rulings on child visitations, and was never used before to force a husband to grant his wife a "get". It was used for the first time in this case after the judges consulted the rabbinical courts' legal advisor, Attorney Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi.

 

"We are about to see one gate locked in the face of the woman, following the end of the 10-year prison term," the court said in its decision. "It's only right that a woman held captive in marriage will have a gate of hope opened to be free of her husband's burden…"

 

"When balancing between the basic rights of the husband and wife for dignity and freedom, the woman must be favored in this case, as she has the right of a peremptory rule on behalf of the court stating that the husband must be forced to grant her a divorce."

 

 

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