The Marriage Trap: Worse Than You’d Think

Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State by Susan Weiss and Netty C. Gross-Horowitz (Brandeis University Press, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Series on Jewish Women, $40) contains many shocking stories about women’s attempts to secure a divorce in Israeli rabbinical courts. In perhaps the most harrowing of these, a woman seeking to end her emotionally and physically abusive marriage was relentlessly stalked by her recalcitrant husband during the five-year divorce ordeal. In order to prove to the rabbinical judges presiding over her case that she was promiscuous — and therefore undeserving of any basic rights — her husband hired a private detective to record her every move, including, unbeknownst to her, videotaping her in the privacy of her home. The husband presented to the rabbinical judges a 15-minute video recording of this poor woman walking around in her own home in her underwear, when she thought she was alone. The rabbinical judges, rather than question the cruelty and legality of the husband’s actions towards his wife and the violation of her basic right to privacy, decided to watch the entire recording from start to finish. The woman — the only woman in a courtroom full of men — sat there helpless, powerless, mortified and completely objectified, as the rabbis and her husband colluded to reduce her to nothing with their ruthless gaze. 

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