JERUSALEM, Sept. 21, 2018 – On Thursday, September 20, the Jerusalem District Court made its final ruling in the class action suit against “Kol Barama,” an ultra-Orthodox radio station, will pay women for excluding them from the air. The radio station will pay 1 million NIS in damages, plus legal fees, for excluding women from their broadcasts. This money will be transferred to a class action fund which will distribute the money to programs which will empower religious women. This is the first class action lawsuit on civil rights and gender segregation in Israel.
From the ruling: “We are dealing with a class action of great public importance, which, for the first time, made use of the establishment of the class action as a tool for advancing equality and preventing gender discrimination. The claim was beneficial to the members of the group [of women represented] and the broader public, including a deterrent to similar violations of the law.”
“Kol Barama” began broadcasting in 2009. For its first two years on the air, no women’s voices were broadcast on the station. In 2012, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Asaf Pink filed class action lawsuit against the radio station on behalf of Kolech, the Religious Women’s Forum, for exclusion of women. The class action was approved by the District Court. The radio station appealed the court’s decision, which was denied. The Supreme Court ruled that the Prohibition Against Discrimination should be given a broader interpretation, as it already states that the exclusion of women in the public domain is harmful and illegal, and that this case harms both the equality and freedom of speech of these women.
Anat Hoffman, IRAC’s Executive Director, stated: “This ruling is an important cornerstone in the battle against discrimination and the exclusion of women. It sets precedents for the severe treatment of cases of exclusion and compensation to those harmed. I am full of pride at the positive outcome of this case. Those who discriminate must pay the price. With the start of the Jewish New Year, we will continue to work for social equality, tolerance and justice against discrimination and exclusion.”
The Israel Religious Action Center (www.IRAC.org) is the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. Founded in 1987, IRAC seeks to advance pluralism in Israeli society and to defend the freedoms of conscience, faith, and religion. IRAC advocates on behalf of a broadly inclusive Israeli democracy.
IRAC’s core activities are focused on the following objectives:
- Fighting religious extremism and gender segregation in the public domain.
- Fighting racism and advancing a shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
- Advancing religious freedom and dismantling the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate’s monopoly.
- Securing equal status for all streams of Judaism in Israel.