Gender separation in public areas is a growing and dangerous phenomenon in
Israel, the Movement for Progressive Judaism warned Tuesday, as they issued its
fourth report on gender separation during a Knesset meeting.
opposition MKs from Kadima and Meretz attended the meeting, which was hosted by
the Knesset Caucus for Civil Equality and Pluralism, founded during the current
Knesset by MKs Shlomo Molla (Kadima) and Nitzan Horowitz
Dozens march in J'lem to protest gender segregation
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“Segregation is a disease that is spreading in Israel, the
significance of which is the degradation of women and coercion in the grossest
possible manner,” said Horowitz at the opening of the meeting.
education minister Shulamit Aloni added that she thought that the “evil impulses
of the haredim took control of them, and they panicked,” creating increasing
restrictions on the presence of women and girls in the public sphere.
emphasized that in the first government, four religious parties signed on to the
basic guidelines of government, which ensured that “complete equality will be
ensured for citizens…there will be full and complete equality for women, in
political, economic and social life.” Any violation of these guidelines, Aloni
said, was illegal.
“Egged and the health care providers have no right to
collaborate with the religious extremists in harming women,” Aloni added. “I
would try them all and deny business licenses for any public or private
organization that is not located in the heart of haredi society.”
came here today because it is important to raise public awareness,” said Noa
Sattath, interim associate director of the Israel Religious Action
Sattath said that although there is legislation guaranteeing
equality for both genders, “it is possible that with time, we will need to look
for additional legislation on these issues, especially regarding public
Sattath noted that the center’s objection centered on
companies and services that receive government funding.
“Most of the
Orthodox and secular public doesn’t even understand the widespread nature of the
phenomenon,” she added.
The report that was published reflected 10 years
of information-gathering by the Center for Progressive Judaism, with its writers
arguing that the phenomenon of women being physically separated from men in
public areas has been steadily growing.
The research demonstrated, said
Sattath, that the goal was not simply separation, but a gradual removal of women
from the public space.
Sattath offered as example the fact that
researchers had repeatedly examined what happened when a man tried to sit in the
women’s section of public, segregated buses, and discovered that men can sit in
the women’s areas with impunity while women cannot do the
Complaints detailed in the report included one by Rivka Lubitz,
who complained that women had been separated from men by order of the cemetery
director at a funeral she attended.
Zehava Fischer complained of
separation at a publiclyfunded community center, and Chana Pasternak described
the well-documented phenomenon of women forced to sit in the back of public
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