A PUBLIC pool that maintains female-only hours so that Hasidic Jewish women can swim with no men present has sparked debate in the US.
For several hours a week, the Metropolitan Pool on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn bars men from entering, allowing local Orthodox Jewish women and girls to swim while maintaining their modesty.
The popular recreational centre in New York City’s thriving neighbourhood, just a few blocks from a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community, has kept women-only pool hours since the 1990s. But the practice only came to the attention of the wider public recently after complaints to the city’s Commission on Human Rights.
Commission spokesman Seth Hoy said they received an anonymous complaint “a few months back” that the indoor pool — one of NYC’s oldest — might be violating the city’s human rights law, which bans gender discrimination in public accommodations.
Jewish law forbids women to bathe in front of men and, according to New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a politician who represents the Orthodox Jewish district in Brooklyn, many Hasidic women were “very distraught” after learning the female-only pool hours might be discontinued.
If it is a public pool, it must not discriminate. Religious beliefs should not get preference under the law.
If members of a religion want a pool that is female only at times, then they can establish their own private pool.