Saturday, February 11, 2017

What did I sign up for--Abuse and divorce

So, it looks like I'm taking a little break from everything wrong with American politics to discuss--everything wrong with Israeli politics.  Specifically, this cute little story out of Jerusalem.
A woman sues for divorce on the grounds of domestic violence.  Naturally, the Beit Din cannot force the man to give a get, but they have the power to sanction in case of refusal.  In this case, they did not use that power because--the husband only assaulted his wife after she left him.
Wow.  Just--wow. 
"When a man takes a wife and is intimate with her, and it happens that she does not find favor in his eyes because he discovers in her an unseemly [moral] matter, and he writes for her a bill of divorce and places it into her hand, and sends her away from his house," (Devarim 24:1).
"She does not find favor in his eyes" are the grounds for a get, according to Torah text.  I'd say assaulting her was evidence that he found her "unfavorable."
The rabbis argue that if she hadn't left, he would never have assaulted her.  However, I would argue that, based on everything I've read about DV, physical assault was the escalation of a situation that has gone very, very bad.  Usually, the wife leaving is a catalyst for escalation of abuse, and this can range from physical assault to murder.  (I actually know someone this happened to.  The wife was a victim of emotional abuse for years.  She left her husband, and he physically assaulted her.)  Moreover, the rabbis' statement sounds a lot like victim-blaming.
To me, there should be no discussion.  The man assaulted his wife.  We have it on the record.  This is grounds not only for divorce, but a restraining order.  The Torah is about compassion.  Where is the compassion for the abuse survivor?  Why do we have none for this poor woman?

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