Hundreds of men and women boarded gender-segregated buses in Jerusalem and Ramat Gan on Sunday, in protest of the exclusion of women from the public sphere and against the segregation of men and women in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
Despite the friction between the two communities, the protest on board the buses went over relatively quietly.
The organizers of the demonstration requested that the protesters gather in central points in Jerusalem and Ramat Gan so they would not be drawn into provocations.
Throughout the evening, there were two incidents in which bus drivers refused to allow the activists to board the buses. In line 354 from Ramar Gan to Be’er Yaakov, the problem was only solved after police intervention, and on line 402 from Ramat Gan to Jerusalem, the bus driver threatened the activists and journalists that he would break their cameras.
On Ben-Gurion street in Ramat Gan, several ultra-Orthodox men flung insults at police officers, saying that “the country helps protesters in their struggle.”
An ultra-Orthodox passenger on one of the buses in Bnei Brak said, “We suffer from exclusion more than secular people, but once the media creates a fight between secular people and Haredim, then we have no choice – we have to pick a side.”
“Extremists from both sides do not allow a discussion to take place on this subject,” he said, blaming the media and ultra-Orthodox extremists of anti-Semitism.
The event, which was created by Jerusalem resident Alon Visser called on people to put an end to the apathy and changing the status quo. Visser said that he has gotten used to seeing gender-segregated buses run through Jerusalem’s central bus station.
“This is not the society that I want to live or raise my children in,” Visser wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “We cannot continue to be silent on the issue of gender segregation on bus lines – it is against the law and against human rights.”
According to Visser, the event was not meant to protest against or hurt the religious Haredi community, but rather “to eradicate the ugly phenomenon of the exclusion of women.”
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