JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jewish man in Israel who refuses to grant his wife a religious divorce after being ordered to do so by a rabbinical court could face criminal charges and be jailed.
Under a new policy directive issued Monday by the state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, his office will seek a significant prison sentence for a husband convicted of violating the rabbinical court’s order to give his wife a “get,” or religious divorce, Haaretz reported.
A religious court cannot impose a get, and a man must give the religious divorce of his own free will. Nitzan said the state will adhere to those conditions by only threatening criminal charges after the rabbinical court has ordered the get and after consulting with the legal adviser to the rabbinical courts, Haaretz reported.
The husband can still be jailed even if he subsequently agrees to grant the divorce, however.
A woman who is unable to obtain a get is known as an agunah, or chained woman. Under Jewish law she cannot remarry.
Husbands who refuse to grant a religious divorce have been shunned socially and refused honors, such as being called to the Torah in synagogues, in an effort to pressure them to change their minds.
Though 131 women are listed officially as having husbands who have refused them a religious divorce, groups that provide help for such women say they get thousands of requests for assistance each year, The Times of Israel reported.