Agunah solution?

Secret discussions to help women who are refused a get (a religious divorce) by their husband have reportedly been taking place at Manchester University.

According to Ha'aretz, a group of top rabbis and scholars gathered at the University Centre for Jewish Studies last month. In secret proceedings, it was suggested that a clause should be added to the ketubah - the marriage contract - which would make it possible to annul the marriage if a spouse is not granted a get.

In Jewish law, if a husband refuses to grant his wife a get, she remains an agunah - a chained wife - and cannot remarry.

One participant said: "We maintained secrecy to enable everyone, the rabbis too, to express themselves freely."

The proposed change would mean that if the couple splits and one spouse refuses to issue a get, the marriage would be annulled after a period of time determined in advance. This is already the custom among French Jews, but many rabbis object to it.

The Agunah Research Unit at the Centre for Jewish Studies in Manchester will reportedly spend the coming months drafting the addendum to the ketubah, to be submitted to leading rabbis for endorsement.

Last updated: 11:20am, August 7 2008