- Women and Children *Last*? July 17
Israel's national Rabbinical Courts Administration has ordered the local religious court in Ashdod, a city less than 20 miles away from the border with the Gaza Strip, to remove signs designating its secure bomb shelter as being for men only.
The separate area designated for women was among the regular courtrooms, and did not appear to provide extra security or protection.
The national administration said that this example of gender separation was not actually implemented in practice, "nor will it be implemented when [it comes to] entering bomb shelters." The administration also said that the signs were put up by an employee who acted without the knowledge of management, The Times of Israel reports, and that disciplinary action will be taken against those responsible.
The issue was first brought to the administration's attention by a female member of the Israeli Knesset, Stav Shaffir of the Labor Party, after she was told about it by one of her office volunteers who had visited the building. The administration then acted quickly to order the sign to be taken down.
The separation of the sexes in Israel, as pushed for by its ultra-orthodox Jewish sector (commonly known as the Haredim) has become a divisive issue in the country's cultural and political life. Shaffir said of this story: "Discrimination against women is improper in all cases, but when it prevents them from protecting themselves, it is more than just improper, it's also dangerous."- - Eric Kleefeld
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