Get refusal and violence
In the article “Anti-domestic violence group holds series of shul lectures,” (Cjnews.com), it was reported that Act To End Violence Against Women (ATEVAW) will host sessions on domestic violence in the Jewish community.
I applaud this important step, particularly since ATEVAW executive director Penny Krowitz explained to me two years ago that the choice to change the organization’s name from Jewish Women International to its current iteration was in order to service not solely the Jewish community. In fact, she expressed that they get few Orthodox women going to them for support. This about-face over the past two years is welcome and necessary.
My research has affirmed that while there is more shame and fewer resources in religious communities, the rate of violence is the same as in non-religious communities. There is one critique I must make however: get refusal has not been included as a form of domestic violence, when there is no doubt that get refusal is unique form of domestic violence.
In my own research on get refusal, I interviewed close to 50 agunot (women denied a get – a religious divorce) in Toronto and New York and discovered that every case of get refusal was precipitated by some form of domestic violence, with the refusal of the get acting as the final blow.
Make no mistake about it: there are agunot in Toronto today! Can they seek support at ATEVAW? If so, shout it from the rooftops, because this would be the only venue for support for a woman refused a get in Toronto.
Yael Machtinger, PHD candidate, Socio-legal Studies, York University Thornhill, Ont.