A woman has been jailed in Israel for refusing to give her husband a divorce, marking the first time such a punishment has been extended to a female.
The rabbinic court handed down the punishment after the woman refused to attend hearings or grant the divorce even though the couple had been separated for four years and her husband had gotten full custody of their children, 16 and 13.
“It is rare. It is the first time that there’s incarceration. But the rabbinic court reached the decision that there was no other option,” the head of the department in the rabbinical courts that deals with divorce refusal Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon told The Times of Israel on Sunday.
The woman in this case will be in prison for a year, or until she accepts the get, a ritual divorce, from her husband.
When the woman was forced to appear in court, she said that she did not want a divorce.
She “insisted that she was not willing to accept a get and that she wanted to go through a reconciliation process with her husband,” the courts said.
The courts have already penalized her by taking away her driver’s license and freezing her bank accounts, but she still would not give in.
Divorce is a very serious step to take in Jewish culture, which makes it harder for either husband or wife to pursue that option.
Typically, men have been jailed for refusing to grant their wife a divorce, which prevents her from remarrying. Men can get a special dispensation to remarry if they are refused a divorce, however.
The rules have always been different for men and women. If a woman whose husband will not divorce her has a baby with another man, it will be considered illegitimate, but if a man does the same, it is not considered illegitimate.
It’s too soon to know whether this incarceration will result in other changes that will make the system more fair and equal.
I’m sure that’s what women in Israel are hoping for, but it’s difficult to change thousands of years of tradition.