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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs