Australian groups seek government help in ‘unchaining’ Jewish wives


SYDNEY (JTA) — Two Australian groups are seeking government help in “unchaining” Jewish wives whose husbands will not grant then a Jewish divorce.

The National Council of Jewish Women of Australia and the Melbourne-based Unchain My Heart Incorporated jointly submitted a statement on the issue to the Australian Law Reform Commission.

The statement said the practice of denying wives a Jewish divorce, or get, is a tool to control, intimidate and extract concessions from women. Such “agunot,” or chained wives in Hebrew, face grave consequences if they wish to remarry, because without a get their children born in a new relationship may not be considered legitimate within the Jewish community.

“Get refusal is a form of family violence and a violation of human rights, and should be dealt with accordingly,” said Unchain My Heart Chair Susie Ivany.

“We hope that progress will be made as a result of the submission to make it easier for Jewish women to obtain a get and move on with their lives within their religion,” NCJWA Acting National Co-Presidents Sylvia Deutsch and Victoria Nadel told JTA.

The Australian Law Reform Commission is conducting a comprehensive review into the family law system to ensure that it meets the contemporary needs of families and effectively addresses family violence and child abuse.

The Jewish groups make a number of recommendations, among them an order that the civil court order that allows a divorce to occur shall not become final until both parties have done everything within their power to ensure that all barriers to a Jewish re-marriage have been removed.

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