Israel’s divorce rate up 5% in 2012

NGO questions validity of stats showing increase in number of women granted ‘gets’ by their husbands

Illustrative photo of a wedding (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a wedding (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The divorce rate among Israeli Jews rose some 5 percent in 2012, with close to 11,000 couples untying the knot, according to statistics released this week by the Chief Rabbinate.

The report also showed that some 88,000 Jewish couples filed to initiate divorce proceedings in 2012, a 9% increase over 2011. The highest concentration of divorces was in Tel Aviv, with Jerusalem a close second.

Because the rabbinate oversees marriage for Jewish citizens only, the statistics do not cover divorces for non-Jews in Israel, which are handled by separate agencies.

The divorce rate in Israel has traditionally been lower than that of other industrialized countries. For example, according to OECD statistics, in 2009 the divorce rate in the country was 30%, while the US’s rate was 50%, France’s 52% and the UK’s 54%.

The rabbinate’s statistics, more happily, seemed to show an improvement in the plights of women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce. In 2012, 163 such women were granted a divorce certificate, up from 97 in 2011, and the statistics showed an increase in court orders and arrest warrants for the recalcitrant husbands.

However, according to Batya Kahana-Dror, director of Mavoi Satum, an NGO that deals with the issue, the statistics don’t reveal the full picture.

“The courts are hiding from public view their conservative position, which sees… imposing a divorce as forbidden, and divorce as nonkosher,” she told Yedioth Ahronoth. She added that the court didn’t release figures for the “true number” of women whose husbands refused to grant a divorce, and called the statistics on legal action against husbands “misleading.”

“The result of the court’s policy is thousands of Israeli women imprisoned by their husbands, who cannot continue their lives and have a new family or children,” Kahana-Dror said.

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