News / Middle East

Israel Seeks to End Back-of-the-Bus Gender Segregation

FILE - A sign pointing to the men's exit is seen at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 8, 2011.FILE - A sign pointing to the men's exit is seen at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 8, 2011.
x
FILE - A sign pointing to the men's exit is seen at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 8, 2011.
FILE - A sign pointing to the men's exit is seen at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 8, 2011.
Reuters
Back-of-the bus seating for women on any public transport in Israel will soon be outlawed, the justice minister said on Thursday, pledging sweeping legislation to stop Jewish zealots trying to enforce gender segregation in many spheres of life.
 
“Discrimination against women in public places, in public services, cannot be allowed,'' the minister, Tzipi Livni, told Army Radio.
 
The issue is at the heart of a long and emotional struggle between a secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority over lifestyle in a country where institutions such as marriage, divorce and burial are controlled by religious authorities.
 
“Today, I instructed the Justice Ministry to draft legislation ... that will make any segregation of women and their humiliation in a public space a criminal offense,'' Livni said on her Facebook page.
 
She made the announcement a day after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein recommended outlawing any behavior that stops women from receiving “public services with equal conditions''.
 
The separation of women and men on bus lines through religious neighborhoods, and incidents in which Jewish zealots have spat at schoolgirls they deemed to be dressed immodestly, have raised public pressure on the government to act.
 
Now, with the power of ultra-Orthodox politicians diminished by their exclusion from Israel's governing coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's administration could find it easier to win support for an anti-segregation law.
 
“Women in Israel won't sit at the back of the bus. Women in Israel will participate in state ceremonies and their voices will be heard on radio stations and in the army,'' Livni said.
 
Cursing and Spitting
 
She was referring to events at which religious politicians and soldiers, adhering to a traditional edict to avoid temptation, have walked out rather than watch women singing or dancing, and to an ultra-Orthodox radio station's refusal to employ female announcers.
 
“The new law will be formulated in the coming weeks and help the struggle against the shameful and violent phenomena of cursing and spitting at women,'' Livni wrote. “It will be another step toward equality between men and women in Israel in 2013.''
 
But the legislation could also heighten militancy in an ultra-Orthodox community whose state welfare benefits and military service exemptions are under threat by the new government Netanyahu formed in March.
 
Fears of vandalism by religious modesty squads have led advertisers in Jerusalem, a holy city with a large Jewish religious community, to avoid posting images of women on busses and billboards, or at least toning down their clothing.
 
Women who insist on sitting in the front of buses in Jerusalem have been subjected at times to verbal and sometimes physical assault.
 
Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, and a bastion of ultra-Orthodox ritual practice, has also been at the forefront of a challenge championed by women.
 
Women of the Wall
 
Jewish activists seeking equal rights at the holy place where men and women pray in separate sections - have gathered there monthly for worship sessions, donning prayer shawls in defiance of Orthodox tradition.
 
Israeli police have detained the women in the past for wearing the “talit''. But police say they will not intervene at the next gathering, on Friday, after a judge ruled the women were breaking no law.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: USA Lawyer from: USA
May 10, 2013 1:41 PM
Why are American tax dollars supporting religious fanatics who call themselves "GOD's" people and yet they are actually stealing land and committing genocide while enforcing discrimination and racism?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid