Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein reported to the cabinet on Sunday that he has initiated a wide-ranging crackdown on gender discrimination.
A committee Weinstein appointed, led by Deputy Attorney-General for Legislative Affairs Dena Zilber, has jumped directly into several different manifestations of discrimination against women.
The committee plans to investigate the impact of growing numbers of haredim in the IDF on women.
In another example, the committee was informed that burial societies often prohibit women from giving eulogies at burials out of religious concerns for modesty. The Justice Ministry confronted the Chevra Kadisha, and ordered an end to the discrimination on eulogies.
Initially, the ministry received reports that all of the Chevra Kadisha chapters were in compliance – except for two chapters, with whom there are ongoing negotiations.
But after receiving additional complaints, the ministry reopened the issue with the Chevra Kadisha to make it clear that partial compliance was not acceptable.
In another example, the city of Netivot was due to hold a Remembrance Day ceremony in which women would be prohibited from singing. The ministry ordered that women be allowed to sing, requiring that the ceremony organizers change their policy.
The city of Ashdod was due to hold a Mimouna ceremony with separate areas for men and women. The ministry contacted Ashdod, and made it clear to the ceremony organizer that forced separation was prohibited.
Despite repeated guarantees by the Transportation Ministry that it would take steps to end forced gender segregation on buses, the Justice Ministry found that those steps did not lead to sufficient change.
The Justice Ministry said it is on the verge of ordering all buses in areas with complaints of discrimination to have their back doors sealed, so that men and women will have to enter through the same door. This will make it harder to force women systematically to sit in the back of a bus.
Besides these examples, the committee plans to continue work on segregation against women on many fronts, ranging from walking in certain separate areas in health centers, from being harassed if someone argues that they are “immodestly” clad, to demands for separate education in higher learning centers and bans on women on public radio stations.
Also on Sunday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Livni’s initiative to obligate divorcing couples to undergo arbitration before racing to the rabbinical or family civilian courts in an attempt to facilitate quicker, less adversarial divorces.
The report arrived at the 90-day deadline for the Cabinet’s decision 1526, pushed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, to implement changes recommended by a government-sponsored panel and report on progress to date.
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