A renegade group of Israel’s haredi women is complaining about breast cancer!

We care deeply about women’s health. The Health Ministry showed that breast cancer mortality is highest among Haredi women, and we tried to understand why. We saw that there were no public service announcements about the need for constant checkups. Women get tested too late. In our society, they don’t even call it breast cancer, but ‘the female affliction.’ … They use a hazy term because they are considered unchaste words. Haredi women have a unique lifestyle: They marry early, they get pregnant young and have many children, which has health effects, good and bad, but no one talks about this issue or allocates funds to address it. In 2014, we convened the Knesset committee for women’s equality to discuss the issue of ultra-Orthodox women’s health, and the Haredi lawmakers were a no-show, even though it concerned their mothers and their grandmothers.

What next? Political representation?

Our problems are the result of living in a democratic state without getting our democratic rights. The state must intervene… The law should be changed so that every party will have to include a certain number of women on its Knesset list… We were at the Knesset the day that Shas and United Torah Judaism submitted their lists. The election committee got two lists of 120 men, and no one batted an eye. What if some party said that they’re anti-Ethiopian? It’s undemocratic. I won’t agree to have my right of representation taken away. Right now, there’s no one representing 51 percent of the Haredi population… At the first stage, they should say: ‘You want a male-only list? No problem, but you’ll get only 50 percent of your election budget.’

And there’s that old chestnut: We do all the work, our husbands are fucking layabouts, and we are silent, invisible, and disenfranchised.

The ultra-Orthodox economy is on our shoulders, but our voices aren’t heard – not in the media, not in politics, not in the religious council or the local council. In other societies, your economic status gives you a certain social status as well, but not in a society whose values revolve around Torah study.

UD is beginning to worry about the viability of ultraorthodox Judaism. If it cannot continue to make its women glory in poverty, overwork, and social contempt, its future is in doubt.

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