The battle for women’s rights on Israeli radio
November 21, 2016
Should a public Israeli radio station that, up until very recently, didn’t allow women’s voices on the air have to pay those women damages?
That’s the issue the courts are now wrestling with, two years after those women won a decision granting them the right to have their voices heard on air.
In 2012, a feminist group called Kolech sued Kol Barama, an all-male, ultra-Orthodox radio station that banned female voices from its airwaves. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews think women should not sing or even, generally, be heard.
The station, which receives money from the government, forced women to fax in their questions for show hosts. The questions would then be read on air by a man or child.
The discrimination lawsuit made it to the highest court in Israel. In 2014, that court ruled that Kol Barama must allow women on call-in shows.
The controversy didn’t end there, however. Kolech is now seeking $26 million in damages for the time the station silenced women’s voices. A ruling on that portion of the suit is expected next year.
The issue goes well beyond radio
NPR interviewed the editor of a large ultra-Orthodox news site that rarely publishes photos of women. He suggested NPR ask how women in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood feel about the situation.
And it turns out some agree with the men at Kol Barama.
Indeed, one woman NPR spoke to said that radio should never air women’s voices, because it’s forbidden. Others around her agreed.
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