Growing segregation by sex in Israel raises fears for women’s rights

Growing segregation by sex in Israel raises fears for women’s rights

The New York Times reports:

The trains from Tel Aviv were packed one evening last month when Inbal Boxerman, a 40-year-old mother of two, was blocked by a wall of men as she tried to board. One of them told her that women were not allowed on — the car was for men only.

Ms. Boxerman was stunned. It was a public train operated by Israel Railways, and segregated seating is illegal in the country. The men stopping her appeared to be protesters going home from a rally supporting the governing coalition, which includes extremist religious and far-right parties pushing for more sex segregation and a return to more traditional gender roles.

“I said, ‘For real?’” said Ms. Boxerman, who works in marketing. “And my friend came up and she also said, ‘Are you for real?’ But they just laughed and said, ‘Wait for the next train — you can sit in the way back.’ And then the doors slammed shut.”

Public transportation is the latest front of a culture war in Israel over the status of women in a society that is sharply divided between a secular majority and politically powerful minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who frown on the mixing of women and men in public.

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that it is against the law to force women to sit in separate sections on buses and trains, ultra-Orthodox women customarily board buses in their neighborhoods through the rear door and sit in the back. Now, the practice seems to be spreading to other parts of Israel. [Continue reading…]

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