March 20, 2012
From the NYT:
CHICAGO — Before a packed house of 350 men and women at a Jewish educational center, Beverly Siegel suggested three questions that religious Jewish women should ask before divorcing: “Do I get a get? Do I not get a get? Hmm, what kind of get should I get?”
Ms. Siegel, a Chicago filmmaker, was screening her 2011 documentary, “Women Unchained,” about Jewish women whose husbands refuse to give a religious divorce known as a get. Less religious Jews divorce with no thought to the get. But in traditional Judaism, the husband may withhold the divorce. The women are considered agunot, or “chained wives.” A recent survey found that between 2005 and 2010, there were 462 cases of agunot in North America.
Even if she has obtained a civil divorce, a chained wife, or agunah, cannot remarry within the faith. If she does, children from her new marriage carry a stigma forever. In exchange for a get, husbands often demand reduced alimony, favorable child-custody arrangements, even cash payouts.
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