Mayor ordered to remove modesty signs from Israeli city

A group of Israeli women in the central city of Beit Shemesh scored a significant win over religious ultra-Orthodox hardliners in their city after they managed to force the Municipality to remove so-called modesty signs.

The Jerusalem District Court ordered Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul that he had three weeks to remove the illegal signs that instruct women to dress in a modest way.

Some of the signs require women to wear long sleeves and long skirts and no tight-fitting clothing, while others instruct women not to walk on sidewalks near places where men gather such as synagogues study halls.

In January 2015 a court in the city ruled in favor of a lawsuit that was filed by four women who had sued the city for refusing to take the signs.

The municipality was instructed to pay 15,000 shekels (roughly $4,000) in damages to each of the women who filed the lawsuit.

However, despite the ruling, the signs were not removed, and the plaintiffs were forced to take their suit to a higher court.

The women in question had reportedly been threatened with violence from members of the city's ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community. The lawsuit stipulated that the refusal to remove the signs fostered an atmosphere that negatively affected women.

The modesty billboards had messages inscribed as follows: "Dire Warning: It is forbidden to walk on our streets in immodest dress, including slutty clothing worn in a religious style." The billboard was signed by the "residents of the neighborhood."

In March 2014, a Haredi man attacked a religious woman in Beit Shemesh due to the length of her skirt, which he found to be too short.