|Letter to Netanyahu: Don’t ban women speakers from a gynecology conference|
|Tuesday, 10 January 2012 18:47|
Health Ministry Director-General
The Puah Institute deals with guidance, advice, and assistance in fertility and gynecology in the spirit of Halacha, and is funded by the Ministries of Health and Religious Affairs. The Puah Institute’s 12th national conference will take place on Wednesday, January 11, under the heading "Advances in Gynecology and Halacha." At this meeting, presentations will be made by 25 male experts on religion and medicine and on woman's fertility and sexual health. The conference will not include a single female expert. Thus, at a conference which deals with women’s issues and dilemmas surrounding sexual health and fertility, women are made to disappear and be struck dumb regarding dialogue and research about them.
As if this were not enough, we’ve learned that similar behavior took place at previous national conferences of the Institute, and that women were even denied a passive participatory role as members of an audience. The women, apparently, were placed behind a partition or in a separate room.
In the face of growing public criticism against the phenomenon of the exclusion of women from public spaces, it is surprising to us that a government ministry would finance activities that exclude women in a hurtful and harmful manner, that places them as objects of research only, and that does so on a matter concerning fertility and sexuality and concerning dilemmas and difficulties unique to women. This exclusionary conduct is taking place under the auspices of your ministry. It presents an injury to women and to their rights to equality. It normalizes the medieval worldview in which a woman is seen only as a sexual object, to be explored and analyzed, and who cannot have a voice, comment, or independent thought. The unacceptable conduct at the conference -- and the public criticism leveled at it -- has prompted four lecturers who were to appear at the conference to declare that they would not attend. The Ministry of Health should follow suit and denounce the conference.
The fact that the Ministry of Health finances the activities of Puah Institute and supervises it makes it directly responsibility for the discriminatory, abusive, and exclusionary conduct of the group. It requires you to act immediately against it. The Ministry of Health has the authority and the capacity to ensure that the attacks on women and women’s freedom do not take place, and that women are allowed on stage, as experts and lecturers on the subject.
Therefore, in light of the above, and given the great public importance to act firmly against the exclusion of women from public life, please immediate turn to the Puah Institute and demand that the conference be integrated to include female experts. Furthermore, we ask you to continue to act to ensure that discriminatory and harmful conduct by the Puah Institute will not continue.
Since it's an urgent issue, we ask that you respond as soon as possible.
1. Sister for Women in Israel
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 18:51|