Are these people for real?
Cellular phones defined as “kosher” block emergency numbers for mental counseling and sexual assault victims, a Ynet inquiry reveals.
The numbers for rape crisis centers – 1202 for women and 1203 for men, as well as the ERAN emotional first-aid hotline, are all non-accessible for subscribers of kosher-certified mobile services for the ultra-Orthodox public in the different cellphone providers.
The short of it is that these numbers are toll free, meaning among other things that they don’t show up on the call list or bill in order to maintain discretion and privacy. Enter the Rabbinical Committee for Communications, which set up the kosher program and, as a condition of their selecting certain mobile providers, are allowed to submit a list of “blocked” numbers. For some reason, the committee decided that the rape crisis and emotional first aid numbers weren’t “kosher” and had them blocked.
Why in hell this shocked me, I don’t know. The folks behind this are haredi, or ultra-Orthodox. They’re not exactly clear-headed when it comes to dealing with women. These are the same folks who busted out the near-sighted goggles to avoid looking at women, and freaked the hell out when some of them (again, non-haredi) decided to sit in the front of the bus. I didn’t think they’d go so far as to block rape counseling services … though to be fair, they did it for men too this time. Maybe they don’t think it happens. Maybe they don’t think it’s a big deal … or that issues like this don’t need to be taken care of outside of the community.
Either way, it really looks like it’s against the law.
According to the Knesset spokesperson’s statement, amendment No. 52 to the Communications Law specifically states that “a phone call to an emergency hotline for victims of sexual assault or to an emotional first-aid hotline will be a toll-free number from any phone, including a public and mobile phone.”
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel even has a separate group of counseling centers for religious people because of their special needs and other considerations. Right now, though, they can’t access them unless they switch providers. The Communications Ministry says they’re looking into the issue, and will be contacting the Rabbinical Committee to figure out why they’re blocked to begin with. I’m sure they’ll have a logical and rational answer.