The trial of Bruria Keren, the face-covering mother of 12 who started a movement encouraging hyper-tzniut (extreme modesty), has been convicted of abusing six of her twelve children.
Keren attracted the attention of the press in December 2007 because she covered her face, wore multiple layers of clothes, refused to speak while men were present, and persuaded other women to do likewise. Shortly after this “movement” became known in the press, she was arrested for severe child abuse.
According to Ynet, Keren’s lawyer brought expert witnesses who recommended psychiatric care for his client, “whose voice I never heard, and whose face I never saw.” But the psychiatrist appointed by the court determined that the behavior stemmed from religious belief, not psychosis.
The judge, while placing the blame firmly on the parents, criticized the extended family and community, who for 25 years stood by while the children suffered and “the walls around them grew higher.”
Defense attorney Gil Dechoach criticized the decision. (I don’t know what happened to the female lawyer who represented her originally.) He claimed that because his client refused to speak to him, she could not get a fair defense. “This is a woman who was enclosed in darkness, did not leave her house for ten years, who was absorbed in ceremonies and murmurings. She should be treated by a doctor and not imprisoned with convicts.”
Rafi’s take on it can be found here.