A special committee has ruled that gender-segregated public buses are illegal, but at the same time will allow the strictly Orthodox community to organise segregated private transport.
The largest transport co-operative, Egged, has about 55 bus lines on which men and women are made to sit separately as a result of strictly Orthodox pressure. Petitions against this to the Supreme Court resulted in a committee appointed by the Transport Ministry.
This week, following more than a year of deliberation, the committee ruled that segregation is “unconstitutional and degrading”. It recommended that public bus companies “direct drivers not to impose any kind of segregation or discrimination against passengers and...do everything in their power to prevent any kind of coercion or violence between the passengers.”
The committee also recommended that these conditions be part of all public transport licenses and that “no public buses be labelled in any way as ‘mehadrin’ or having any special arrangements of that kind”.
The report was greeted with satisfaction by feminist and civil-rights groups who campaigned against the segregation. But the strictly Orthodox lobby which supported the buses in court noted that the report still allowed them to run private segregated bus lines as long as they are operated consensually and without any violence or coercion towards passengers.