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Religious law versus secular law The example of the get refusal in Dutch, English and Israeli law

Keywords: religious law , secular law , Jewish law , comparative law , Dutch law , English law , Israeli law , divorce , get refusal , equality , freedom of religion , collision of human rights

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The tension between religious law and secular law in modern democracies is illustrated in this article by a discussion of the different approaches to the get (a bill of divorce) refusal (based on Jewish law) under Dutch, English and Israeli law. These legal orders share many characteristics, but also display important differences as to the role of religion and religious law in the public realm. The Dutch system is the most secular of the three; it does not recognize a role for religious law within the secular system as such. The English legislation provides for means that to a certain extent facilitate the effectuation of a religious divorce. In Israel, finally, the law of marriage and divorce is as such governed by the religious law of the parties concerned; for the majority of the population that is Jewish law. An evaluation of the different approaches in the framework of human rights law reveals the complexities of the collision of the underlying values in terms of equality, religious freedom and minority rights, also having regard to the diversity of opinions within religious communities.


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