Conflict & Justice

Israel's gender-segregated buses

Two of the women who signed onto the suit say they feel a bit like Rosa Parks. This Israeli novelist got involved by accident, when she got on a completely empty bus. She says she chose a single seat so no one would have to sit next to her. She understood that men and women would try to remain separate if the bus got crowded but she didn't realize she had boarded an unofficially segregated bus where women are required to sit in the back until a man shouted at her and told her to do so. That bus route was one of dozens of unmarked but segregated routes around Israel. Still not everyone agrees with the Rosa Parks analogy. This woman says ten years ago when these buses began they were very popular. She says religious people have a right to feel comfortable in public places. The segregated buses are subdued. Married couples sometimes sit together in the middle seats. This woman says the segregation is needed to keep the women on the straight and narrow. She says there have been some extreme incidents where unknowing women have been insulted, spat on, and even beaten up. The suit highlights the differences between the secular and religious sections of Israeli society. Secularists worry the religious factions have too much sway with the government and she worries Israeli society is veering towards extremism. Most likely the Supreme Court will order that segregated buses be marked and extra bus lines be added to cover both sides.

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