In a new twist to the already growing gender bias in Israeli society, women experts have been prohibited from speaking at a gynecology conference in Israel.
The conference on "Innovations in Gynecology/Obstetrics and Halacha [Jewish law]" which focuses on gynecological advancements, is to be held at the Puah Institute for Medicine, Jerusalem.
According to a Globe and Mail report, major topics for the conference include "ovary implants," "how to choose a suitable contraceptive pill," "dietary supplements for pregnant and nursing women" and "intimacy during rocket attacks."
Though Israel has many qualified female experts on the subjects, they will not be allowed to speak at the Puah gathering. Women will only be allowed to participate in the conference as part of the audience in a section separated by dividers.
The Puah Institute follows strict kosher laws as required by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate and women speakers are excluded from the event in order to ensure the participation of "Haredi" orthodox men and women in the conference.
Many human rights groups in the country and the medical community at large have condemned the ban.
According to human rights groups, the conference cannot be seen as a private event as the Puah Institute receives subsidies from the health ministry.
The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) has banned its member doctors from participating in the conference in view of the exclusion of women speakers.
Faced with the criticism, the Puah Institute announced that it would hold an event only for women in the summer, and make it an annual event tied to the existing conference, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
The Puah Institute is a non-profit organisation established by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu in 1990. The institute was set up to help Orthodox couples to overcome infertility.