In order to exert more pressure on "gett" refusers—husbands who refuse to consent to the process of divorce as required by religious Jewish law—a new proposed bill will attempt to shame them into consenting to providing their wives with their much sought-after freedom via gett.
There are currently several thousands of women in Israel whose husbands refuse to provide them with a gett, preventing them from moving on with their lives or remarrying.
Several dozen of these women are considered "agunot," women whose spouses escaped the country or are otherwise nowhere to be found.
The bill—submitted by MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) with the help of attorney Odelia Hen—proposes that a national database be created, collating the personal details of all gett refusers, male or female (though female gett refusers are much rarer than their male counterparts). In addition to their personal details, the database would also include their names and photos.
The database will uploaded to the internet much in the same way the bankruptcy database is uploaded, and as is already the standard operating procedure with gett refusers who have escaped Israel.
After the database is set-up and online, any person searching for the name of a refuser will find them on the site containing the database, together with their exact details.
MK Swid presented Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau with the bill, and he decided to adopt and support it.
The bill stressed the details of any refuser who has been issued with a verdict ordering them to divorce will not be automatically uploaded to the site, and that their details would only be uploaed upon the specific instructions of the rabbinic courts. The proposed law has also garnered support from the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbinic courts' administration.
Under the proposed bill, even those issued with a rabbinic court decree saying that they must consent to divorce would be able to carry on with their normal lives almost completely uninterrupted, as the court's sanctions would be implemented at a much later stage, if at all.
"Those who were refused getts are living dead behind bars created by their own spouses. There's no way to completely eradicate this phenomenon, but my proposed bill is a significant step toward revealing the ugly visages of gett refusers," MK Swid said.
"The refuser database will display the names and photos of anyone who's willing to imprison their spouse in a marriage they no longer wish to be in," Swid added.
"The bill was thought up after I came across many cases dealing with gett refusers, both men and women. The law would use social networks and media to get the public aboard the effort to eradicate these incidents," Attorney Hen added.
"The online refuser database will also provide accessibility to every one of the world's agencies, so even refusers who escape abroad will be revealed to their surroundings and their personal details, including their photo and name, will be fully disclosed. This dramatic shift can finally minimize the gett refusal calamity," she stated.