Women’s Rights: 2017 Success Story

Groundbreaking Court Ruling Advances Women’s Rights

The Israeli Declaration of Independence assures equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race, or gender. And yet, women in Israel are still treated as second-class citizens, facing discriminatory practices and laws that limit their power and voice.

For example, women in Israel can be denied a divorce if their husbands do not agree to grant them the separation. Women are often vulnerable to abuse and extortion when they want to leave a marriage, and can be left in a state of limbo for years.

In one case, a woman’s husband was in a coma after a motorcycle accident. After a seven-year struggle to get a divorce, in 2014, the rabbinical courts granted the woman a divorce without the husband’s consent. But some ultra-Orthodox rabbis denounced this ruling, and a third party appealed the decision to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Leading women’s rights organization and NIFC partner Mavoi Satum appealed to the High Court that the divorce be upheld. And on March 30, 2017, the High Court upheld that claim and ruled in favour of the woman, also preventing the rabbinic court from reopening the case.

Additionally, a High Court of Justice recently issued a landmark ruling that a woman can serve as the director-general of the state’s rabbinic courts. Batya Kahana-Dror, the director Mavoi Satum, and the one who submitted the original court petition, said, “The High Court’s decision constitutes an important breakthrough in women’s struggle for senior positions that, until now, have been thought of as blocked to them, in particular in the religious establishment. This decision will have ramifications on other positions and for equal rights in the workplace.”

Mavoi Satum promotes bettering the status of women denied a divorce through individual support to women, subsidizing legal expenses, and outreach to rabbis highlighting the problems these women face.

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