The Law Enforcement Project - In Hebrew, Project Pi Supervision, Enforcement and Implementation of Family Law in Israel
Report No.1-The Rabbinical Courts Law
Foreward from the report:
In the following Report we wish to review one aspect of the way the Israeli legal system addresses the issue of Mesoravot Get – women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce – in Israel. The Rabbinical Courts Law (Implementation of Divorce Judgments), 5755 – 1995 gave rabbinical courts civil legal tools that comply with Halakha (Jewish law) by which to restrict get withholders. Nevertheless, our report shows that this law is in effect almost a dead letter law within the Israeli legal system, and is rarely implemented by rabbinical courts in such a manner as to provide proper measures against get withholding in Israel. There are various reasons behind the rabbinical courts' reluctance to implement this law, among which;(“is their fear that husbands will grant wives with invalid divorces (for alleged lack of their “free will their secretariats' difficulty in scheduling automatic hearings for issuing restrictive orders; and their inability to ensure that the restrictive orders are indeed implemented. Those who are denied their divorce rarely seek the implementation of this law due to their lack of awareness of the possibility of issuing a restrictive order; or their inability to continue with the endless legal proceedings due to the financial burden entailed; or else their difficulty in coping with the ongoing need to plead with the court to issue and enforce the sought after order. Women who are denied divorce also fear that the rabbinical court system is unwilling to impose sanctions on men in order to obtain a divorce, and that the restrictive order will only serve to aggravate the recalcitrant husband and feed his stubbornness. Thus, a vicious circle comes to be: because the law is rarely implemented by the rabbinical courts women who are refused a divorce are disheartened and often refrain from petitioning the courts and asking that restrictive orders be issued. The outcome is that this law goes unimplemented. The fact that in the few cases in which restrictive orders have been issued, the orders have proven to be rather effective and in more than fifty percent of cases have led husbands to grant divorces, makes the current state of affairs all the more disconcerting. The present Report also reveals that the law provides certain restrictions that rabbinical courts refrain from placing, as well as some that cannot even serve as means by which to pressure get withholders to change their ways. Above all else, the Report highlights a basic problem with data collection and encoding by the rabbinical courts. Partial data collection and endless problems with the encoding of existing data makes any review of the rabbinical courts' use of the restrictive order tool extremely difficult, and consequently any attempt to thoroughly examine the issue of divorce (get) refusals in Israel is doomed to fail at the outset. Proper monitoring of the longitudinal development of divorce petitions, and the various proceedings they undergo, is especially lacking. Moreover, in order to map out the extent of divorce (refusal and to find out whether it does not discriminate against women- as the rabbinical courts claim or in fact does- as the women's rights organizations claim), all exiting data in rabbinical court databases must be reliably and accurately disaggregated by gender. Only accurate and detailed data collection can provide an answer to this important question.
Report No.2- The Marriage Age Law
Approximately 4,000 children (under 18 years of age) marry in Israel every year. The causes of this phenomenon vary and are usually related to social, religious and cultural norms of certain groups in Israel, as well as to the economic and personal circumstances of the children themselves. According to all research from around the world, the practice of child marriage has detrimental effects on the lives and wellbeing of the children and on their families, including serious damages to the health of young girls who become child-mothers, and to their children. Therefore, the need for elimination of child marriage is unequivocal. The Israeli Marriage Age Law – 1950 was recently amended, and it now states that only persons, over the age of 18 can marry. The law also states that a judge may authorize marriage under the age of 18, only if the child is over 16 years old. This provision is in line with the current international law regarding marriage.
The religious norms (which have civil-legal status in Israel), however, validate child marriage even when done against the law. Therefore, it is difficult to confront and combat this practice. The Marriage Age Law also provides a criminal sanction, aimed to deter from any involvement in child marriage. However, the data shows that the rate of criminal investigations and indictments is low, considering the number of criminal proceedings that are examined in light of the number of child marriage cases known to the authorities. Furthermore, the Educational and Welfare authorities do not take actions to prevent child marriage. The picture is clear: the legal prohibition of child marriage in Israel is not being implemented.
This report contains recommendations in how to engage in a combined course of action of strengthening the enforcement agencies by using suitable and effective tools together with prioritizing this issue by employing preventive measures using those agencies that come in contact with children who are at risk for child marriage. This report petitions the government to take action
to finally eradicate child marriage in Israel.