Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu directed Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch Saturday to get the police to aggressively take action to combat violence by extremist haredim (ultra-Orthodox) against women.

Netanyahu phoned Aharonovitch following a Friday night Channel 2 report showing an eight-year old modern orthodox girl afraid to walk 300 meters to school because of harassment from some haredim because of her attire.  The report interviewed a haredi man saying it was permissible to spit at even a school age girl if she was not dressed "properly."

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In addition to speaking with Aharnovitch, Netanyahu also called Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to ensure that laws against excluding women from the public space were enforced.

"We will not allow groups of extremists to harm the right of women in the public space, which must remain open and secure for everyone," Netanyahu said.

Vered Swid, director-general of the National Authority for the Advancement of Women and a senior advisor to the prime minister, said Netanyahu was very clear in his policy towards elements among the haredi (ultra- Orthodox) community to sideline women, including forcing them to sit at the back of public buses.

“On this issue he is very clear. This isn’t something that needs to be discussed or debated. No one should force a woman to sit at the back of the bus,” said Swid, who plans to work in the coming weeks with local authorities, bus companies and woman’s organizations to rid society of this phenomenon.

“I cannot assure that it will completely disappear from our society but we take this issue very seriously,” she said, adding that raising public awareness to the issue will help to deter it from happening.

Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.

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