Plight of Jewish 'chained women' trapped in broken marriage


In Jewish society, there are estimated to be thousands of women in broken marriages where their husband refuses to give them the necessary religious document enabling a divorce. In some cases, the wife can remain trapped in the situation for years, unable to remarry or move on . . .

Just as a man must give a divorce, a woman must accept one, but today in Israel, there are only one or two men who are considered “chained”, compared to over 100 women, according to Rabbi Eliahu Maimon, head of Agunot for the Jewish Court Administration . . .

Women’s rights organisations Yad La’isha and Mavoi Satum put the global figure of female agunot in the thousands, claiming that many more Jewish women suffer from custodial and financial extortion by their husbands in order to obtain a divorce.

Interesting article.

I didn’t know how divorce worked in Judaism before reading this.


I am not sure what your point is, as the Catholic church doesn’t allow divorce at all, leaving many wives and husbands trapped in relationships that are loveless and dead.

But I have often thought that the Jewish model may offer some hope for the unhappily chained…as marriage is a contract between a couple, surely the couple themselves should be able to release each other from it.


Exactly what I was going to put.

If my wife left me I would be alone forever.


No marriage is ever dead - presuming the marriage exists.


Sadly people yoked to partners they have come to fear, despise or hate, would beg to differ…


If the relationship was abusive I would leave, with the kids. And, yes I know that in some countries that is more than likely not possible, but in others like Canada and the USA I would think it is. Easy…NO. I simply refuse to remain in any relationship that is abusive.

I would use a safe house if need be, and at least get a civil divorce. (Though I have no idea how this would be done for the Jewish woman.) Frankly, if my first marriage was so bad as too drive me to this point I doubt I would ever worry about being married again. I certainly would not pay my husband to free me.

I just can’t stand to think that so many women in this world are still treated like property instead of human beings. It just disgusts me and I don’t see it having anything to do with God or Faith. I personally would not make a “good chained wife.” Not at all.


The Church allows divorce, understanding that it is sometimes necessary; what is not permitted is re-marriage afterwards without a declaration of nullity.

The Church sees marriage as a covenant ratyer than as a contract: when the two become united in marriage it is like adoption rather than like a business contract. We do not think that just because a young man is not speaking to his alcoholic abusive father that the latter is no longer his father; but someone who buys out his business partner would no longer be considered the business partner of the one he bought out.

And I think it is insulting to single people to say that women in this situatiin “cannot move on with their lives.” There is a multitude if things they can do that do not involve romance or marriage. They are restricted in moving on only in one direction.


Some people beg to differ about God’s existence. But that’s irrelevant. So too is the denial that what God has joined together cannot be severed. Where there is sacramental life instilled by God is not so easily dismissed by the emotional attributes plaguing difficult relationships.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit