The Haredi branch is known to have quite extreme policies and beliefs when it comes to women. In Beit Shemesh, a city in which roughly half of the residents is Haredi and the other half is more moderate, a number of conflicts and violent clashes have arisen in the recent years, as the Haredi population keeps growing.
For example, protests erupted in 2011 after a group of ultra-Orthodox men spat on an 8-year-old girl and called her a whore as she walked to school in her uniform (Huffington Post). She ‒and the other girls and women who were cursed, spat on, threatened or beaten‒ was not "dressed modestly" enough in the Haredi group's opinion. Other similar events occurred in relation with gender segregation on public buses, which is required by ultra-Orthodox Judaism but is supposed to be strictly voluntary, as the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled. As a result to these acts ofoppression, women in the area are becoming increasingly feminist.
Moreover, this previous blog post describes well what it means to be a woman in Jerusalem, as it discusses the relationship between tradition and discrimination.
However, discrimination against Haredi women surprisingly does not exist in one area. That area is Israel's Haredi literary world. Indeed, some 80 percent of the community's writers are women, as Haaretz reports. Of course, rabbis still engage in censorship. When a word or topic is problematic, the novel is published in two versions - one fit for Haredi readers and one for the secular ones. This happened with a book on pregnancy, which is sold in a "for married women only" section of Haredi bookstores, because pregnancy is
a word whose usage is avoided in public, for reasons of modesty (Haaretz).One can only wonder about the reasons ultra-Orthodox female authors are so prolific in Israel. The prominent authors interviewed in the Haaretz article, Sarah Fechter and Mali Avraham, have very unique and interesting views. Fechter said:
The men sit and study. A writer is ‘formed’ around the age of 20, and at that age the men are studying and don’t have time for fiction. There aren’t many 20-year-old men who write.After all, maybe reasons behind this phenomenon do not matter that much, although it is interesting to hypothesize. Some of these female authors are really famous and, in my opinion, their work is probably beneficial to the Haredi community. It gives women a voice, a chance to be heard and to connect - with other women and men, secular or not, through literature.