01/15/2008, 00.00
ISRAEL
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High Court of Justice slams ultra-Orthodox only bus

A petition challenges bus lines that segregate women from men to prevent contact forcing the former to sit in the back, requiring them to “dress modestly” and wear only skirts (no pants allowed).

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israel’s High Court of Justice has slammed ‘kosher’ bus lines for ultra-Orthodox Jews (aka Haredi) that force women to sit in the back or ban those who are “immodestly clad” or wearing pants.

A petition against these offending bus lines was brought forward in early 2007 by a group of women led by writer Naomi Ragen and by the Center for Jewish Pluralism.

“A Haredi man shouted at me telling me to get in the back. I felt humiliated and the bus driver did not utter a word,” Ms Ragen said.

According to the Court, “even if Haredi lines are allowed to operate, clothing and gender-separation restrictions cannot be imposed on people who object to them.”

For Justice Rubenstein, quoted in Yedioth Ahronoth, “it is inconceivable for a driver not to allow a woman on a bus because she is wearing pants and is not dressed modestly enough.”

The court told the Transportation Ministry to investigate the matter and find a compromise either by requiring bus drivers to protect passengers or make sure that “kosher” only buses are clearly identified.

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