This was the first time a superior court discussed this matter. In its ruling, the court essentially backed the precedent recognizing a refusal to grant a divorce as an injustice requiring compensation.
The couple, ultra-Orthodox, married in 1997 and lived together for just three months before the woman left the house, pregnant, due to fierce violence from her husband. Since then, the man has refused to grant his wife a divorce, explaining that the Rabbinical Court never forced him to do so.
Family Court Judge Tova Sivan, who discussed the woman's demand for compensation, ordered the man to pay NIS 50,000 ($13,450) for each year the woman was refused a divorce.
'Great day for battle against divorce refusers'
For the first time since compensation was ruled in divorce recalcitrant cases, the husband decided to appeal the ruling, and last week the Tel Aviv District Court decided there was no room for its intervention.
Judges Esther Covo, Michal Rubinstein and Ofra Czerniak wrote that the woman was take captive by her husband, who set up a prison for her from the moment she agreed to marry him.
"The wife was entitled to a divorce from the moment she sought it, all the more so when she married the appellant at the age of 24, lived with him for only three months, and was not content with him," the judges wrote.
"Today she is close to 40 and continues to suffer from the appellant's cruel behavior towards her… The state of events described is immoral and contradicts the basic law of man's dignity and freedom."
Attorney Susan Weiss of the Center for Women's Justice, who represented the woman together with Attorney Yifat Frankenburg, said that "this is a great day for the battle against divorce refusers. From 2011 we have been filing claims for punitive damages against husbands who are divorce recalcitrant all across the country.
"Up to now, rulings were delivered by the Family Courts, which ruled that the recalcitrant husband must compensate the woman. For the first time, this has been affirmed by the District Court."
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