Rabbinical court approves divorce deal barring woman from filing rape charges
The case involves a Jewish couple who were married for five years and divorced in February 2016. The woman alleged during the process that her husband was violent towards her and their two children, and that he had raped her. The husband denied the allegations.
The rabbinical court ultimately determined there wasn't enough evidence to support the woman's claims. Still, the husband insisted as part of the divorce settlement that the wife would agree not to file a complaint to police about the claims, which the court officially referred to as "events of the past."
The woman said she agreed to the deal after being pressured to do so by the three judges, the Jerusalem Post reported. She feared that she would be denied a divorce by her husband if she did not consent to the agreement.
In Orthodox Judaism, a husband must agree to grant a bill of divorce known as a 'get' or 'gett' and his wife must accept it. Women are often denied divorce by their husbands, with local media reporting that there are currently thousands of such cases in Israel.
Mavoi Satum, an organization that advocates for women who have been denied 'gets' by their husbands, has now filed a complaint to the Attorney General's office. It has asked the office to open a criminal probe against the head of the rabbinical court, Rabbi Yosef Goldberg, and the two other judges in the case. The group has accused them of encouraging and approving extortion and interference with investigative procedures, it wrote in a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
“The rabbinical court not only denied the right of the woman to complain to the police and encouraged her to conceal information which she is obligated to provide, but also established it within an official court ruling," said the organization's director, attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, as quoted by the local media.
Kahana-Dror noted that "this ruling has severe consequences, including encouraging violence in the family, when criminal husbands known that the rabbinical court can silence a woman and demand that they not file complaints as a condition of divorce."
In response, the Rabbinical Courts Administration said that the content of the agreement was consented to by both sides, and that there was logic to the court's decision. "Evidence supporting the claims of rape and violence was not provided to the rabbinical judge," the administration said, adding that the judge "believed that there was a severe chance that the woman could be chained (refused a divorce)...
"Therefore, after ensuring that the woman willingly agreed to the content of the agreement and that she understood the meaning of the agreement and its contents, he thought it better to approve the agreement without interfering in the issue of a police complaint, than to put the woman in danger of being refused a divorce.”
The administration also took aim at Kahana-Dror's motives. It accused her of raising the case "from the depths" due to her "struggle against the rabbinical courts."