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Egged must pay woman forced to sit in back of bus

JTA

December 9, 2011 | 10:27 am

An Egged bus in Afula, Israel

An Egged bus in Afula, Israel

Israel’s largest bus company, Egged, was fined for forcing a woman to sit in the back of a bus, a small claims court ruled.

Egged was fined approximately $1,070 on Wednesday for gender discrimination and violating the High Court of Justice’s ruling opposing forced segregation of men and women in the public sphere, according to the Israel Hayom website.

In the suit, filed in July by the Israel Religious Action Center in Rishon Lezion Magistrate Court, the complainant said that a driver employed by Egged made her sit in the back while the bus was traveling to the haredi Orthodox area of Bnei Brak.

“I explained to the driver that the line was not a segregated line, but the driver dismissed my argument and said that only the rabbis can decide whether a bus is segregated or not. It was humiliating and insulting,” the complainant, who is Orthodox, said in court, Israel Hayom reported.

Egged issued a statement arguing that the driver was not representing the company’s views.

The bus company has been accused before of discrimination. In October, Egged was ordered to pay approximately $16,000 in compensation after driver Ben Yakar told a young female student that he “doesn’t let blacks ride on the bus.”

In 2006, Miriam Shear, an American-Israeli woman, reportedly was beaten by a gang of haredi Orthodox when she refused to move to the back of the bus while traveling to the Wailing Wall.

Wednesday’s ruling came a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a closed-session question-and-answer session that she is concerned about the direction of Israel’s democracy, prompting Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to accuse Clinton in a radio interview of having “no real knowledge of a Jewish woman’s modesty.”

“The Jewish people respect women and treat them like queens and princesses,” Amar said.

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