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Israel gynecological conference bans female participants

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 6 Jan 2012 13:28 GMT
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NEW YORK (TrustLaw) - Two prominent Israeli doctors have withdrawn from an upcoming gynecological conference in Jerusalem over the event’s exclusion of women speakers, Haaretz reported as tensions over gender segregation mount in the country.

The Jan. 11 meeting concerning fertility and Jewish law is sponsored by Puah, an organization offering gynecological and fertility counseling consonant with Jewish law, or Halakah, and which is a public group that receives state funds, according to a report in Haaretz.

Word that event organizers informed female gynecologists and fertility professionals that they were banned from speaking at the gathering spurred a protest campaign on Facebook.

The protest apparently sparked the withdrawal of two prominent speakers from the event: Professor Uriel Elchalal of Hadassah University Hospital and Professor Yuval Yaron of Ichilov Hospital’s Lis Maternity Hospital.

“The assertion that women cannot be invited as lecturers in a conference on women’s medicine is both professionally absurd and represents an exclusion of women in the fullest sense of the word,” Yaron said in a letter to the conference organizers, quoted by Haaretz.

The incident appears to be the latest example of recently escalating tensions between Israeli’s conservative religious and secular communities.

Clashes erupted at the end of December between police and several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews from a town near Jerusalem who were campaigning for men and women to be segregated, AFP said.

Women's rights activists say the ultra-Orthodox – around 10 percent of the population – have become increasingly radical over gender segregation and are winning concessions that harm women, AFP reported.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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