Plight of 'chained' women to be exposed via YouTube

Youtube videos attempt to raise public awareness to the plight of 'agunot'.

haredi family 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
haredi family 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Five short video clips portraying the unfair treatment of women in the religious judicial system are set to hit video sharing Web site YouTube in the coming weeks, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The videos are an attempt to raise public awareness to the plight of agunot (chained women), whose husbands refuse to grant them a get (a divorce under Jewish law). "They are presented in the form of bed-time stories, but really they are true horror stories," said a spokeswoman for the Jerusalem-based non-profit Center for Women's Justice (CWJ), which filmed the clips - four in Hebrew and one in English - earlier this week. Currently in post-production, each video is roughly one minute long and is based on a true experience of a woman refused a divorce by her husband. "We are always trying to find new and innovative ways to get our message across," explained the spokeswoman. "YouTube seemed like the best way to do that because it is used by so many young people." She added that part of the organization's activities was encouraging young people to opt for pre-nuptial agreements as part of their marriage contracts. "These could be difficult for some people to watch because they are very cynical," said the spokeswoman, speculating that the Rabbinic Courts Administration would likely be upset with the videos' take on the religious judicial system's approach to divorce. "But it is our job to keep them on their toes." According to Jewish law, both husband and wife must give consent to divorce. However, the law is more stringent regarding the wife, who cannot remarry under any circumstances until her husband gives a get. In Israel there is no separation between religion and state, and all Jews get married in accordance with Halacha, although civil marriages from abroad are recognized. The rabbinical courts are empowered by law to impose sanctions to coerce one of the sides, usually the husband, to grant a divorce. While the CWJ, which also prepares ground-breaking litigation and legislation on matters concerning divorce proceedings, does not keep exact figures on the number of agunot currently in Israel, women's rights groups estimate that they number in the hundreds. The Rabbinic Court Administration puts the number at less than 100.