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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Cranky Complaints-Lady Visits -- a bathroom in Jerusalem!


I'm curious... what do YOU think?  Is this issue as outrageous as it feels to me? Or am I overreacting / overthinking?
(This wouldn't be the first time...)
Backing up for a second:

On my other blog, Adventures in MamaLand, I used to have a recurring "Cranky Complaints-Lady" feature where I wrote complain-y letters to a whole bunch of places which were deserving of my scorn.  

Most are a little weird looking back, and way too wordy.  A good complaint letter should get right to the point.  And it should probably be in a language that the recipient understands and can read.  But this issue at the brand-new train station in Jerusalem has been bugging me for a while... so I decided to write a letter.  

Just venting makes me feel a little better.  But yeah -- like I said, be gentle, but am I off base here in thinking the women's bathrooms should be women's bathrooms, i.e., a private safe space where I can adjust my tichel behind closed doors?

Let me know (gently!) in the comments!

p.s. I apologize for not being around more often -- one huge reason is that as of March, the program I used to post to Blogger (Open Live Writer) is no longer supported by Google/Blogger.  I've been looking around for another home for these blogs... but it's had to take a back seat to parnassah and other concerns.  But I'm still around, and if you ever need to get a hold of me, please email -- Tzivia @ aliyahland.com

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Dear Israel Railways,

I've been through the train station at Jerusalem Navon several times so far and the station is always clean and efficient.  It's a pleasure to arrive by train rather than by bus after the long journey from north of Haifa.

However, I have noticed one particularly troubling problem -- there seem to always be men in the women's bathroom, specifically cleaning staff.  On one occasion a man walked right in to clean one of the women's bathrooms without first knocking and asking women to leave.  On our most recent visit, during Pesach, I noticed that there is a staff "break room" right inside the women's bathroom on the main floor.  Two or three men were in there taking a break while we were using the bathroom.

As a religious woman, I find this disturbing because the bathroom is the only place where religious women, whether they are Jewish or Muslim, can adjust their head coverings in privacy.  

Perhaps if you are not religious or do not cover your head, you will not understand the urgency of this problem.  Sometimes, especially after hours of travel, a woman's headcovering can come loose or become uncomfortable and need adjusting.  The only way this can be done, sometimes, is by taking the whole thing off -- in a place with no men, and where men are not likely to walk in.

Based on the demographics I have seen so far, Jerusalem Navon station may have the largest number of religious Jewish and Muslim travellers than any other station in Israel -- and perhaps in the world.  And 50% or more of these travellers are probably women.  

Even aside from the religious issue, many women have had negative experiences with men and will feel unsafe or violated if men can walk freely in and out of what is supposed to be a private safe space.

When I spoke to staff at the station on one visit, nobody seemed to think the presence of men in the women's bathroom was a problem.  It is a problem, because it violates the religious needs of female travellers in the station.  

Obviously, staff need access to clean the bathroom!  But before they come in, they should knock and wait for all women to leave, just like they do in malls and other public places.  And they certainly shouldn't take their breaks inside the women's bathroom.

I would appreciate a response letting me know how you plan to deal with this problem in your station.

Thanks again for making the travel experience to Jerusalem such a pleasure!

Tzivia MacLeod
Haifa

p.s. I have noticed a similar problem at other Israel Railways stations, such as Tel Aviv University.  Obviously, a clear and consistent policy should be put in place across all stations to ensure that women's spaces are safe and private.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


4 comments:

  1. this really belongs in my Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem, https://me-ander.blogspot.com/p/pishers-guide-to-jerusalem.html

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    Replies
    1. Yes!!! Actually, I was wondering if you'd already reviewed these bathrooms, as a free shiny-clean alternative to the horrible 1-shekel seatless, paperless, filthy bathrooms in the tachana merkazit...

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  2. Of course you're right. They definitely need to reign in the egregiously inappropriate behavior and violation of women's privacy.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. It's good to hear it. I did complain to a station person and they were basically like, "So what?" If past experience is any indication, it'll be about 2 months before they get back to me about my email... :-/

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