Women sing out in musical protest
against orthodox prohibition
|In response to the orthodox prohibition against women singers. Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman has announced a Tel Aviv street protest in which a group of women will stand in public and sing, to make their voices heard.
On Friday 11 November 2011, Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman and a group of women activists plan to meet near the western entrance to Jerusalem to perform an act which is seen by a large and increasingly influential part of the local population as a provocation: singing in public. Members of Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community Haredi believe that men should not listen to the female voice in song, because it may arouse impure thoughts.
Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman has a master’s degree in gender studies, works as a technical writer and blogs about women’s issues. She decided that someone had to take action against discrimination against women in public spaces, politics and the army.
‘Conjures up lustful thoughts’
Segregation of men and women is common on several Jerusalem public bus lines, despite a recent court ruling that banned the practice. The custom has spread to the public health system, with medical practices offering separate entrances and waiting rooms for men and women. In parts of the city orthodox Jews imposed separate sidewalks for men and women during the Jewish feast of Sukkot, forcing the police to intervene and to dismantle the roadside barriers.
Analysts point out that tensions between Israel’s secular mainstream and the ultra-orthodox minority are as old as the state itself. Yet the conflict is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. The ultra-orthodox population doubles roughly every 12 years because their families have at least three more children than the Israeli average.
Nir Barkat, the secular mayor of the city, however insists that secular-religious tensions are waning. Unlike previous years, female singers and dance troupes were now regularly appearing at public festivals and ceremonies, Financial Times quoted him as saying.
Shahar Ilan, vice-president of Hiddush, an Israeli pressure group for religious pluralism, told the Financial Times, “The battle is about whether women still have a place in the public sphere.”
Wave of protests
|‘Don’t stop singing’|
Facebook page (in Hebrew) for the protest event in Tel Aviv:
ככה לא נראית ערווה! מחאה מוסיקלית של נשים שרות
Financial Times – 6 November 2011:
‘Israel’s secular activists start to fight back’
The Jewish Daily, Forward Blog – 27 October 2011:
‘Singing Across Israel for Women’s Dignity’
Ha’aretz – 26 October 2011:
‘Musical protests planned to counter taboo on female singers’
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Zimbabwean gospel diva Fungisai Zvakavapano denied UK visa
London-based Zimbabwe news website, newzimbabwe.com, quoted a British Embassy official citing several reasons for refusing Fungisai a visa, including fear that she might not return to Zimbabwe after her tour. “Taking into account your circumstances as known to me and the current socio-economic circumstances where the official unemployment rate is 70% and the official inflation rate approximately 400% and the widely reported political circumstances in Zimbabwe, I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that you intend to leave the United Kingdom on completion of this visit,” Ken Arundel, an entry clearance officer wrote in a letter to Fungisai.
The visa would have enabled Fungisai to travel to England where she was billed to share the stage with South African gospel artistes Vuyo Mokoena and Lundi from October 15-17 in Birmingham, Bradford and Milton Keynes.