Belz driving ban is illegal, British human rights commission says


(JTA) — A British human rights commission said it is illegal for a school to prevent children from attending if their mothers drive.

In a statement, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that “this sort of discrimination has no place in our society and we will be writing to leaders of the Belz educational institutions to underline their legal obligations,” the Jewish Chronicle reported Monday.

Late last month, rabbis from the Belz Hasidic sect in London issued a letter saying that female drivers violate “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and that children would be expelled from Belz schools located in north London if their mothers dropped them off by car.

The commission spokesman said that “it is unlawful to ban children from school attendance because their mothers, rather than their fathers, drive them there.”

A Belz spokesman told the Jewish Chronicle that the sect had not yet heard from the commission, nor from the Department of Education, which reportedly launched an investigation last week in response to the directive. The sect is seeking legal advice, the Belz spokesman told the newspaper.

Women of the Belz movement reportedly have issued a statement in support of the ban, saying they “feel extremely valued belonging to a community where the highest standards of refinement morality and dignity are respected,” their statement said, according to the Guardian.

Many Hasidic groups in the United States also frown upon women driving.

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