Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teens arrested for gender segregation calls 

Police arrested two non-religious Jewish teens near the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Monday morning, after they reportedly called for gender segregation on buses departing the Western Wall. The youths were apprehended sporting bullhorns.

The police, who took the two young men, 16 and 17, into custody for questioning, suspect they were hired by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Israel Radio reported that the teens were paid 25 shekels an hour for the job.

Gender segregation on public buses has been a contentious issue in Israel in recent years. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have traditionally forbidden the mixing of the genders in their own communities to preserve modesty, but in the past decade they have pushed to practice gender segregation in the public sphere as well. Buses, sidewalks, supermarkets, and advertisement billboards are among the recent targets of the ultra-Orthodox campaigns to enforce gender separation and modesty on the general public.

In 2007, a group of women and the Israel Religious Action Center petitioned to end harassment of women on public bus lines. In January 2011, the High Court ruled that gender segregation on buses was illegal, making it an offense to pressure women into back-of-the-bus seating. The law does enable people to observe the practice voluntarily.


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