Jewish Woman Seeking Divorce for Years Tells N.Y. Court of Rape, Abuse

Rivky Stein, 25, testifies in Brooklyn court that her husband punched her in the stomach while she was pregnant; husband's attorney denies the claim.

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Ultra-Orthodox families in Brooklyn, New York, September 2013.Credit: AP

A Brooklyn woman seeking a document of religious divorce broke down in a court hearing and testified that on her wedding night, her husband raped her and said he owned her, media reports say.

In court, Rivky Stein also testified that husband, Yoel Weiss, punched her in the stomach while she was pregnant and later starved her and the couple's two children, media reports say.

The Brooklyn court case comes after Stein had tried for years to persuade Weiss to give her a get, the Jewish bill of divorce.

Weiss, who is a rabbi, laughed during his wife's testimony during the proceeding, media reports say. That prompted Judge Esther Morgenstern to reprimand him, saying, "There's nothing funny here," The New York Post reported.

Weiss's lawyer said in court that there was no proof that any abuse occurred, the Post reported.

Without a get, Stein testified in the Thursday hearing, she can't date or remarry and she sees no hope for the future.

In Hebrew, she's known as an aguna, a chained woman.

Jewish-women's groups have been campaigning to loosen the control that Orthodox Jewish men have over their wives in divorce proceedings. A prominent Israeli film, "Gett," has also described the difficulties a Jewish woman faces when she wants out of a marriage.

Stein is now 25; she was 18 when she married Weiss in 2008. The couple broke up in 2012.

The proceeding will determine custody of the couple’s two children as well as alimony and child support for Stein.

The judge has told Weiss, 34, that she will order him to pay Stein alimony for life if he does not give his wife a get, the Post reported.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported that two and a half years ago Stein obtained an order of protection from the court against Weiss. The paper said he'd been arrested for violating the order.

Weiss claims the complaints Stein filed were false, the U.K. paper reported.

He told the U.K. paper that he was prepared to give Stein a get but that she was unwilling to agree on custody of the children or to drop the order of protection. 

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