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The Plight Of Agunot

The Plight Of Agunot

No one can condone the alleged actions of those accused of kidnapping and torturing Jewish husbands who refuse to provide their wives with a Jewish divorce, or get, but we cannot permit this story to overshadow the challenges a Jewish woman faces if she is unable to obtain a get (“Accused Kidnap Rabbi Known For ‘Wild West’ Rules,” Oct. 18).

Within the Jewish faith, she becomes an agunah, or a “chained women,” unable to remarry or date; her family is shunned in the community. A husband often uses his control as a form of economic coercion. Powerless, and desperate to move on with their lives, most wives either pay or walk away from a substantial settlement, including much needed child support, in exchange for the religious divorce.

Divorce reforms have made some breakthroughs in protecting these women’s rights in recent years: our courts have been more proactive in dealing with spouses who seek to withhold a religious divorce. But many women, especially those who cannot pay for an attorney to represent them in court, remain trapped.

President, New York Legal Assistance Group

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