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Women's rights activists plan massive protest in ultra-Orthodox city against sexism in public spaces

Organizers expect over 10,000 women to participate

Women's rights activists protest outside the cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, April 2, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some 10,000 Israeli women are scheduled to protest against sexism in public spaces. The organized protest is expected to take place on Thursday evening in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city outside of Tel Aviv.

The protests were sparked by recent incidents of discrimination against female passengers by Israeli bus drivers from Egged, Electra-Afikim and Nateev Express bus companies, which are now facing lawsuits.

In one incident, an ultra-Orthodox bus driver reportedly told young girls to sit at the back of the bus as their outfits “offended” the religious male passengers. 

One of the teenage girls recalled her humiliating experience onboard the bus. 

“It was mortifying… the whole bus looked at me, it was embarrassing, I didn’t know what to do,” she told Israel's Channel 12 news. “Since then I’ve been barely taking buses, I just don’t want anyone to say anything to me. If I do, I get on via the back door,” she added. 

The protest organizers intentionally wanted to demonstrate along central streets, including a street next to a busy local synagogue in the conservative religious city, however, the police only approved the demonstration along a slightly modified route. 

Pictures of women hang on a bulletin board after recent incidents of gender discrimination around Israel, in Jerusalem, Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Many secular Israelis fear that the current conservative religious Netanyahu government seeks to change the delicate status quo between state and religious affairs in Israeli society. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently condemned discrimination against women in public spaces. 

"The State of Israel is a free country in which no one will restrict who may use public transportation or dictate who sits where. Whoever does so is violating the law and must answer for it," the premier stated

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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