In a survey done in Israel and released last summer, the Geocartography Research Institute of the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University found that 50 percent of haredi women in Israel are threatened with get extortion. The survey’s potential sampling error is 5.5 percent with a 95 percent accuracy rate. (No one has as yet done such a study of agunot and divorcees in the United States.)
An estimated 77,000 Israeli women were extorted during their divorce process. About 70 percent of divorced women say they were under duress to give in to demands for custody, money and property, and believe the divorce agreements they signed were detrimental to them. In 40 percent of complicated, drawn out divorce cases, the final agreement was significantly biased in favor of the men. The official rabbanut in Israel is hardly helpful, but they have more teeth because civil courts back them in these matters—if they choose to use them. Even well-meaning U.S. rabbis cannot use civil law to help them free women, except for those with pre-nups, and daring women in New York and Canada, where there are “get” laws—if they have the stomach to use them.