Dr. Helen

Should Hasidic Women get Special Pool Privileges?

Really? I wondered as I read this story at a Williamsburg, New York news site:

WILLIAMSBURG — A group of male and female swimmers are pushing back against women-only swim times at a city rec pool that caters to the the area’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish population — asking the city to drop the illegal policy they say unfairly infringes on others at the Bedford Avenue facility.

Despite the fact that the city’s Human Rights Commission found in May that the policy at the Metropolitan Recreation Center at 261 Bedford Avenue was in violation of the city’s Human Rights Law — prompting the city to quietly eliminate the hours, the women-only times were reinstated following an uproar from the Hasidic community.

The all-women swim began in the nineties, swimmers said, and at first, non-Orthodox women said they were excited about the swim hours, even though they ate into times that had previously been allotted for co-ed lap swimming and family hours.

It seems like the only reason this is being taken seriously is that it is non-Hasidic women who are upset:

The critics — many of whom are women — say the pool staff turn a blind eye as the Hasidic women break the rules, including wearing house dresses and stockings into the pool despite a Parks Department pool rules explicitly stating “For everybody’s health, safety, and protection, we ask our guests to observe the following rules: Bathing suits must be worn on the deck and in the water.”

Pool staffers also don’t enforce customary rules about the pool’s three swimming lanes, allowing Hasidic swimmers to cross lanes and making lap swimming — a draw for swimmers who use the pool for exercise — impossible. The swimmers say the staff also accommodate the Orthodox women by increasing the water temperature, which they say makes it too hot for other swimmers the rest of the day, to prohibiting men in bathing suits from being present in other sections of the gym while they wait for women-only swim time to end.

Now that regular women are being inconvenienced, of course, something must be done. If it was just the men who were upset, would anyone even care?