Get re­fusal and vi­o­lence

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - Letters To The Editor -

In the ar­ti­cle “Anti-do­mes­tic vi­o­lence group holds se­ries of shul lec­tures,” (Oct. 20), 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.

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