Agunah [Hebrew: a “chained (woman)”], in Jewish law (Halakha), a woman who was abandoned by her husband who did not provide her with a bill of divorce. It is for this reason that she cannot remarry as she is still formally a married woman. In Judaism, a woman has the status of agunah both when her husband, despite having abandoned her, refuses to agree for a divorce or when he is not able to grant such consent due to mental illness or due to the fact that he has disappeared without a trace. This problem was particularly acute in times of persecution, as well as during periods after natural disasters or other catastrophes, including, in particular, the Holocaust. Today, most rabbis try to alleviate the fate of an agunah by allowing certain clauses in marital contracts, which, in special cases, make it possible for a woman to be deprived of the agunah status (e.g. in cases where her husband goes missing in action during wartime).
The content of this entry has been prepared on the basis of the source materials provided by the Polish Scientific Publishers (PWN)