Israeli University Cracks Down on Bedouin 'Modesty Patrols'

The patrols largely targeted Bedouin women, who account for 70 percent of all Bedouin students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The university refused to clarify whether the offenders were expelled

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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva. The subjects have no connection to the content of the article.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva. The subjects have no connection to the content of the article.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A group of three students has been running "modesty patrols" at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, chiefly targeting female Bedouin students on campus, the university president said on Saturday.

"There was a small cell of Islamists that photographed female Bedouin students, sending the pictures back to their home clans if they were not modest enough," Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said.

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"In the same way that there are modesty patrols in Mea She'arim" – an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem – "where both Haredi men and women are threatened if they don't act properly, the same thing with Bedouin women."

University administrators initially learned of the modesty patrols roaming campus following complaints from their targets, who were afraid to make an official complaint to the police. According to the university, Bedouin faculty members approached the chastity guards and warned they would be expelled if they continued harassing students.

"It's a very complicated situation because they cannot complain publicly," he said, claiming the university "handled it."

"We threatened them, and they were scared," he said.

As high school dropout rates fall, Bedouin women are increasingly pursuing higher education, outpacing their male counterparts. Today, they account for 70 percent of all Bedouin students at Ben-Gurion University.

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