JERUSALEM: Is divorce a global crisis for women? If so, should the UN adopt a special international divorce treaty to benefit women?

jerusalemIt’s almost as if Israeli professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari thinks that divorce is a global moral hazard that is exacerbated by a global male group think that “women are inferior and that men are in charge of their destinies” and that the only solution for the problem is for  the United Nations to adopt international regulations on the issue. In an article in the Jerusalem Post this summer Halperin-Kaddari appears to be seeking more action from the United Nations to protect women around the world when they get divorced – particular in the context of their economic survival. Says the JP:

In UN terminology, Kaddari is seeking a new “general recommendation” for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The new article would lay out economic protections for those seeking divorce, says Kaddari, chairwoman of the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan.
Such a recommendation would have legal authority under the UN convention, the apparatus adopted in 1979 to guard women’s rights and prevent gender-based discrimination and violence. The convention has been amended a number of times since then, notably in 1992, when the committee issued general recommendation No. 19 to fight and eradicate violence against women.

It seems the problem, in Ms.  Halperin-Kaddari’s estimation, is even more acute in developing countries than it is, say, in the United States and other developed more progressive societies. The idea, I guess, is to apply pressure to these societies that depend on foreign aid, to bring their laws up to the international standards with respect to women’s rights post divorce and their equality in general to men. But she is not just pointing the finger at others while failing to look at her own country.
She also seems to think that in Israel, women are definitely not equal to men – particularly when a marriage terminates and with respect to their economic situation and to a lesser extent violence against women – and that rather than emulating the West on it’s treatment of women, Israel actually mimics the Middle Eastern societies to which it is supposed to be diametrically opposed on political and cultural issues. Says JP:

Israel’s government is far from being committed to the advancement of women’s rights,” she said. After her UN committee produced a report on Israel, none of the documents was translated into Hebrew and governmental officials largely ignored its findings, she said.
Indeed, advancing women’s rights is the main objective of the Rackman Center. Last year, the center, in partnership with the International Coalition for Agunah Rights, advocated successfully for the Knesset to amend the Spousal Property Relations Law, reducing a man’s ability to refuse to give his wife a get, a religious bill of divorce.

Emboldened by the status she perceives women possess in Western countries like the United States, Ruth is forging ahead to bring change to her native Israel and to emerging societies where women’s rights and family law are concerned. But she seems to concede it will be an uphill struggle:

“As long as Israel is under the exclusive jurisdiction of religious law, women might still find themselves jeopardized and needing to give up all their secular and international rights,” she said. Barring new interpretation of religious law by rabbinic authorities, that can only be changed if and when political change comes to Israel.”

Certainly we at Divorce Saloon wish her luck in this endeavor. Mazel Tov, Ruth
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