Despite High Court of Justice rulings against it, forced gender segregation continues on so-called mehadrin buses in violation of the law. Female passengers are often intimidated by verbal insults and threats from haredim and sometimes are assaulted if they refuse to move to the back of the bus. Additionally, the fear of being humiliated by screaming haredi men and possibly assaulted compels many women to sit in back even though they do not want to.
Government To Step Up Enforcement Of High Court Ruling Prohibiting Forced Gender Segregation On Public Buses, Sidewalks
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The issue of gender discrimination was a topic of the Government of Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Yeshiva World reported. Reportedly discussed were the findings of a report compiled by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat.
Some of the gender discrimination issues the report deals with are forced gender segregation in cemeteries, females being illegally prohibited from giving eulogies by the state-funded haredi-controlled burial societies that control cemeteries, gender segregated “mehadrin” buses, and gender segregation in public spaces like sidewalks.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs reportedly told the cabinet that the ministry issued directives prohibiting forced gender segregation in cemeteries and forbidding burial societies from prohibiting women from giving eulogies. The ministry representatives claimed that since the directives were issued, the discrimination against women has almost completely ended. (This is not entirely clear from independent sources, however.)
Ministry of Interior reportedly issued a directive to city governments to remove signs posted in haredi areas ordering women to walk on separate sidewalks across the street from men, but ministry representatives admit the signs remain posted in many locations anyway.
Livni’s and Livnat’s report found that, despite High Court of Justice rulings against it, forced gender segregation continues in haredi areas on so-called mehadrin public buses. Female passengers are often intimidated by verbal insults and threats from haredim and sometimes are assaulted if they refuse to move to the back of the bus. Additionally, the fear of being humiliated by screaming haredi men and possibly assaulted compels many women to sit in back even though they do not want to.
Even though it is illegal for a public bus driver to open the rear doors of his bus so women can board from the rear and men from the front, the practice is still commonplace, the report also found.
Members of the government team put in place to monitor compliance with the High Court’s ruling against forced gender segregation and other types of gender discrimination reported that most of the changes that were to have taken place to have bus companies in compliance with the law have yet to occur.
To help prevent forced gender segregation, the cabinet decided that the rear doors of public buses can no longer be used for boarding, even by men. It also asked the Ministry of Transportation to increase the number of inspectors to increase enforcement of the law prohibiting forced gender segregation.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is also reportedly expected to issue a directive to all public bus companies that will mandate using the front door for boarding both genders and not using the back door to boar anyone.