NYC Fellowship  New York Class of 2012

Fraidy was 19 when her family arranged for her to marry a man she barely knew. She was 20 when she had her first child. And she was 27 when she decided she'd no longer live with a violent, unstable husband.

But divorce seemed impossible: Jewish law grants only men the right to end a marriage. Besides, Fraidy was uneducated and financially dependent on her husband, per the norm for Orthodox women. She was alone; her family declared her dead when she stopped covering her hair. She was terrified of losing her children, after rabbis threatened to kidnap them.

Fraidy overcame those challenges, becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree and establish a career. She managed to get divorced and start a new life. But most women who want to leave their arranged marriage are limited by finances, religious law and cultural norms. For them, Fraidy founded Unchained.



Founded by Fraidy Reiss

Venture Facts

Social Action
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Divorce can be nearly impossible for women in insular communities in the US that practice arranged marriage. They often have no money or education and no understanding of the US legal system. They may face religious laws that limit women's divorce options.

Unchained gives those women a free or low-cost divorce attorney who's trained to end arranged marriages. Unchained helps the women get the social services they need as they reinvent their lives, such as shelter, employment and counseling. Unchained pairs the women with mentors who can provide guidance and support. And Unchained advocates for changes to laws that can leave women trapped in arranged marriages, such as the laws surrounding minimum-marriage age.

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