Hundreds Of Jewish Women In US On Sex Strike To Protest Unfair Divorce Laws

800 women refused to sleep with their husbands last Friday night, a time when intimacy is considered especially holy.

Hundreds Of Jewish Women In US On Sex Strike To Protest Unfair Divorce Laws

Jewish women are taking an unusual approach to getting their voices heard.

In a bold act of protest, over 800 Hasidic women in Kiryas Joel, New York, have begun a sex strike. Their target is a centuries-old Jewish law that makes it extremely difficult for women to obtain a divorce, according to The Metro.

The women say the current system, requiring a husband's written permission (get) for a divorce, leaves them trapped in unhappy and even abusive marriages. They hope the strike will pressure their husbands and the wider community to advocate for legal reforms, as per the news outlet.

However, the protest has sparked controversy within the insular community. Striking women have faced social media harassment and even been pelted with eggs. Kiryas Joel's strict religious codes also require women to seek rabbinical approval before reporting domestic violence to the police.

Why the strike?

At the heart of the issue lies "get." This Aramaic document, signed by a rabbi, is required for a religiously valid divorce. The wife has no power to obtain a divorce on her own, and a spiteful husband can withhold it, effectively holding his wife hostage in the marriage.

Women trapped in such situations are known as "agunah" or "chained women." Malky Berkowitz, a 29-year-old resident, has become the face of the protest. Separated since 2020, she's been unable to obtain a divorce from her husband, Volvy, leaving her unable to remarry according to their faith.

The women hope their drastic action will force change and give them the freedom to leave unhappy marriages.

"Malky is the face of every woman who has fought and gone through the system like a docile, demure, obedient sheep," strike leader Adina Sash told The Economist.