Yesterday, the Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO), marked the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by holding a protest in Tel Aviv.
The protesters were carrying life-sized black coffins each adorned with a single red rose.
A study done by the WIZO shows a 20 percent rise in the number of women killed by family members in Israel.
“Every seventh woman (in Israel) has been beaten, at least once in her life, by her partner,” the study said, adding that every year, around 200,000 women are abused by their partners, in acts of violence which are witnessed by some 600,000 children.
This year, WIZO has launched a national campaign entitled “Save Your Souls” which focuses on the dangers of emotional violence and encourages women to seek professional help, organisers said.
Gila Oshrat, chair of WIZO Israel, said the scope of domestic violence went far beyond the physical harm inflicted on women and their children.
“Emotional violence has no physical signs and is therefore hard to recognise and difficult to treat,” she said in a statement.
“It is a destructive violence, subjugating the woman and sometimes endangering her life and the lives of her children.
“We all have to understand that violence against women is not the problem of women in society. It is the problem of society.”
The position of a woman in Judaism is worse than its sisters in Christianity and Islam.
The dogma of the First Sin in the Bible has resulted in an extremely negative impact on women throughout the Judaeo-Christian tradition. All women were believed to have inherited from their mother, the Biblical Eve, both her guilt and her guile. Consequently, they were all untrustworthy, morally inferior, and wicked.
Jewish Rabbis listed nine curses inflicted on women as a result of this dogma: “To the woman He gave nine curses and death: the burden of the blood of menstruation and the blood of virginity; the burden of pregnancy; the burden of childbirth; the burden of bringing up the children; her head is covered as one in mourning; she pierces her ear like a permanent slave or slave girl who serves her master; she is not to be believed as a witness; and after everything–death.”
To the present day, orthodox Jewish men in their daily morning prayer recite -”Praised be God that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be God that he has not created me a woman. Praised be God that he has not created me an ignoramus.”
What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman. I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”- St. Paul
“The birth of a daughter is a loss” (Ecclesiasticus 22:3).
“Let the words of Torah rather be destroyed by fire than imparted to women”, and “Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is as though he taught her obscenity”
“Our Rabbis taught:….if a menstruant woman passes between two (men), if it is at the beginning of her menses she will slay one of them, and if it is at the end of her menses she will cause strife between them” (Talmud bPes. 111a.)
“If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, ‘I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,’ then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. The girl’s father will say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said I did not find your daughter to be a virgin. But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives. If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of the town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
To the present day in Israel, if a married man indulges in an extramarital affair with an unmarried woman, his children by that woman are considered legitimate. But, if a married woman has an affair with another man, whether married or not married, her children by that man are not only illegitimate but they are considered bastards and are forbidden to marry any other Jews except converts and other bastards. This ban is handed down to the children’s descendants for 10 generations until the taint of adultery is presumably weakened.
The Talmud advises a maximum of four wives. European Jews continued to practice polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews regularly practiced polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it is forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law, which overrides civil law in such cases, it is permissible.
“Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother’ ” (Genesis 38:8
Rabbi Epstein- “They are owned –before marriage, by the father; after marriage, by the husband.”
“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled” (Deut. 24:1-4).
The Talmud has recorded several specific actions by wives which obliged their husbands to divorce them: “If she ate in the street, if she drank greedily in the street, if she suckled in the street, in every case Rabbi Meir says that she must leave her husband” (Git. 89a). The Talmud has also made it mandatory to divorce a barren wife (who bore no children in a period of ten years): “Our Rabbis taught: If a man took a wife and lived with her for ten years and she bore no child, he shall divorce her” (Yeb. 64a).
A Jewish wife cannot initiate divorce under Jewish law. She however, could claim the right to a divorce before a Jewish court provided that a strong reason exists. Very few grounds are provided for the wife to make a claim for a divorce. These grounds include: A husband with physical defects or skin disease, a husband not fulfilling his conjugal responsibilities, etc. The Court might support the wife’s claim to a divorce but it cannot dissolve the marriage. Only the husband can dissolve the marriage by giving his wife a bill of divorce. The Court could scourge, fine, imprison, and excommunicate him to force him to deliver the necessary bill of divorce to his wife. However, if the husband is stubborn enough, he can refuse to grant his wife a divorce and keep her tied to him indefinitely.
Jewish husband, however, can desert his wife without granting her a divorce and leave her unmarried and undivorced. He can marry another woman or even live with any single woman out of wedlock and have children from her (these children are considered legitimate under Jewish law). The deserted wife, on the other hand, cannot marry any other man since she is still legally married and she cannot live with any other man because she will be considered an adulteress and her children from this union will be illegitimate for ten generations. A woman in such a position is called an agunah (chained woman). In the United States today there are approximately 1000 to 1500 Jewish women who are agunot (plural for agunah), while in Israel their number might be as high as 16000. Husbands may extort thousands of dollars from their trapped wives in exchange for a Jewish divorce.