Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Brooklyn Women Told They Must Ride In The Back Of The Bus

Photo Courtesy: Jezebel
Today, Jezebel reported, "The B110, which travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park, is open to anyone, has a route number, and goes to city bus stops. However, the line is run by a private company under a decades-old agreement with the city, and since the bus is designed to serve the Hasidic community in the area, a board of rabbis sets the rules. They've decreed that women should sit in the back and men should sit in the front to avoid contact between members of the opposite sex."

When a woman who volunteered to challenge this regulation to witness what, if any, repercussions would occur, she paid the fare and took a seat in the front of the bus. Columbia Journalism School's The New York World reports 

"They were Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding a "private bus" and a "Jewish bus." When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her. "If God makes a rule, you don't ask ‘Why make the rule?'" he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing else that happened.  That the woman who volunteered to ride the bus didn't get into a discussion about women's rights, discrimination laws, and refused to move. And with everything going on in the world you may think, so what?  Just sit in the back of the bus. But for one, it's not a private bus so the Orthodox Jewish Community has no right to make such a rule for public transportation.  It's also not just about seating on the bus; it's another example of how women are treated as second-class citizens. What would happen if these women asked for a women's only bus?  If men demanded so?  How do a group of these men treat women who are not orthodox when they encounter them in the world?  It brings a lot of questions as to where are the lines between separation between religious affiliation and common courtesy, oh right and discrimination laws.  The fact is, this shouldn't even be a discussion because until the Private Transportation Corporation who pays the city to run the route somehow alters their relationship with the city so the Orthodox Jewish Community is then exempt from discrimination laws in the public sector, "it's the same as a man screaming at a woman about her choice of seat on any other form of public transportation." 

What are your thoughts?  As a woman have you experienced this kind of discrimination anywhere?  As a man, how do you react to this discrimination occurring?  Comment below or email me 

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