Mother of 7 Released From Two-day Detention for Refusing Divorce

Woman handcuffed for not accepting Jewish bill of divorce that ignored husband's failure to live up to his end of bargain made in family affairs court.

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Outside the Jerusalem rabbinical court.
Outside the Jerusalem rabbinical court.Credit: Tess Scheflan

The Rabbinic court in Jerusalem ordered on Thursday the release of a woman, who had been handcuffed on its previous order for refusing to accept a get (Jewish bill of divorce) from her husband.

The court had her put in handcuffs and arrested her Tuesday, after she refused to sign the divorce deal offered her. During her arrest the woman fell ill and was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. She was kept under guard and handcuffed to the bed during her stay.

The woman, a 48-year-old resident of Jerusalem, separated from her husband four years ago. The couple has seven children, one of them in need of round-the-clock care. The two reached an agreement in the Family Affairs Court two years ago, by which the woman would receive the home registered in her husband's name in order to take care of her disabled child, but the husband never handed her the apartment and opened divorce proceedings through the religious court.

The court called in the woman, but she did not attend its hearings because, according to her daughter, she had undergone surgery and had health problems. According to the daughter, the woman provided the court with doctors' notes regarding her condition.

The police brought her to the court Tuesday with a subpoena. The judges, Avraham Scheinfeld, Eliyahu Abergil and Mordechai Toledano, gave her an agreement to sign. She refused, asserting her husband had not given her the apartment as agreed upon. The judged arrested her for a week in response. She would have to pay a bond of 10,000 shekels ($2,548) to be released, but her daughter said she cannot afford to pay such an amount.

The woman told Ynet that she was being treated like a criminal, replete with handcuffs and police officers. "I can't understand this unreceptiveness and cruelty," she said. I'm just carrying out the ruling of the Family Affairs Court."

Her daughter told Haaretz, "She has two policemen on her, as if a criminal were involved. It's all a fixed game. We have no way of paying 10,000 shekels."

Vered Swid, director of the PMO Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, said Thursday justice calls out for the handcuffed woman to be released. She vowed she would do everything "so they won't be able to arrest women for this kind of reason in future."

Swid is demanding the establishment of a committee to investigate the rabbinic court judges' "shocking, outrageous and incomprehensible" behavior.

The rabbinic court commented that the woman was given the option of being released on bail. "The woman is eligible to appeal the decision to the regional court," it stated. "Court management is prevented from going into further details due to a gag order put on family affairs issues discussed in religious courts."

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