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Jun 30, 2014

Attorney General ready to go all out in war against gender-discrimination

As reported in the JPost, the Attorney General, Yehudah Weinstein, has initiated a crackdown on forced gender segregation.

The three main issues it is tackling are:
1. the impact of increasing numbers of Haredim in the IDF, and how that affects women
2. forced gender segregation on the bus
3. chevra kadishas, in the sense of women speaking, or not speaking, at funerals.

From JPost:
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.
I am against forced gender segregation outside of tefilla and shuls, and some other public religious services, where it is halachically necessary.

The idea sin the article quoted above regarding Weinsteins approach do bother me though:
1. They are going to order the back door of the buses sealed? Sounds dangerous to me. Should the bus have trouble (God forbid), like catch fire on the way up the hills to Jerusalem, as is not uncommon, or terrorism, this could become a death trap, for whomever is sitting in the back.
Must we really go so far, as to seal people in, to solve this?

2. there must be some sort of guidelines to having a separate-gender event. Can men not get together for an event without women? Women cannot have a womens-only event? Is Weinstein saying that men and women MUST sit mixed at all events? While I think it is wrong and demeaning to send a woman to the back of the bus, I would also not say every community event must be mixed-gender.

There must be some sort of guidelines, or else we are soon going to end up with the government insisting that shuls cannot have separate seating, as it is gender discrimination. And definitely not when the women's section is in the back of the shul (rather than a side-by-side arrangement).

3. The Attorney General is approaching this solely from a religious perspective. When religion, or religious people, gender discriminate, he looks into it and gets involved.
Why does he not also get involved when the discrimination has nothing to do with religion? Surely there must be room for his involvement to improve the situation there as well. There are plenty of ways in which women are still discriminated against in general society.
Not to take away from the abuse in the name of religion, but the problem is not limited to religious settings alone. If Weinstein considers the problem to be such a serious one, he shouldn't limit himself to the religious part of it.

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1 comment:

  1. " have their back doors sealed" - Besides the safety risk, it is also primitive! Some buses now allow bus pass holders to enter from behind and swipe the cards there instead of with the driver.


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