Domestic Violence in Jewish Law - How Judaism views wifebeating.

Naomi Graetz

For many years there has been a myth that domestic violence among Jewish families was infrequent. However, there is much data demonstrating that domestic abuse is a significant and under-recognized behavior in Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora. Jewish women typically take a longer time to leave abusive relationships for fear that they will lose their children and because they are aware of the difficulties in obtaining a get, a Jewish divorce document.
Wifebeating in Rabbinic Literature
In biblical times, acts of sexual assault and abuse against women were of concern to the degree that they violated male property rights. The Bible delineated the marriage relationship by calling the husband ba'al which implies both ownership and lordship (Ex. 21:28). Thus, for example,if a wife is physically harmed by someone, compensation is paid to her husband. The husband is not only the owner of his wife, he is also the owner of her pregnancy (Ex. 21:22). If a man's "property rights" are violated, he is entitled to compensation.

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