Agunah literally translated as anchored is a halachic term referring to a woman who is chained to a marriage due to the disappearance of her husband or his unconfirmed demise. In modern times the meaning has been broadened to include the woman who is unable to procure her freedom from a recalcitrant husband who refuses to grant a Get.
In Jewish law, for the woman to be granted official freedom to remarry, certain requirements must be met. In the case of widowhood, the husbands demise must be verifiable. Assumption of death is not sufficient. While in the case of divorce, it must be granted by the husband of his own free will. Absent these requirements a new marriage by the wife would be considered adulterous under Jewish law, and any children born of that marriage would be deemed mamzerim or illegitimate.
In the past the primary reason a woman was chained to her marriage, unable to remarry was the disappearance or unconfirmed demise of her husband. In addition, if the husband became comatose or insane he could not actively give a Get deeming his wife an agunah. Currently, though there are women that are agunot (plural of agunah) due to their husband missing in action or falling ill, the majority of the women chained to their marriage are those that are refused a Get.
Over the years the conservative movement has proposed a number of solutions to the Agunah problem. None of the solutions have been accepted by the traditional orthodox rabbinate. The remedies put forth by the Conservative rabbinate can be categorized into two groups: preventative solutions and curative solutions.
Prior to marriage certain things can be done that will assure the granting of a Get should the husband refuse to give it.
Letter of Intent
If none of the preventative solutions were done or if they failed, curative solutions were developed.
If the husband refuses to grant a Get after a civil
divorce has been issued without a valid reason
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