Sex segregation

Sex segregation is the separation, or segregation, of people according to sex or gender. Public bathrooms, public showers, dormitories, changing rooms, prisons and other areas are often sex segregated. Sometimes there are separate hours or separate facilities in public saunas. Some religious buildings have separate entrances and worship areas for men and women. Some trains have designated women-only passenger cars.

Men and women also tend to work in different occupations; for example, more than 90% of nurses in the United States are women and only 6 of the fortune 500 companies have women CEO's. This is referred to as occupational segregation.

In education, entire schools might consist of a student body of only one gender. In co-ed schools sometimes certain classes, such as sex education, are sex segregated.

The term gender apartheid (or sexual apartheid) is a derogatory term applied to segregation of people by gender, implying that it is sexual discrimination. Gender segregation is a controversial policy, with the strongest critics contending that in most or all circumstances it is a violation of human rights, and strong supporters holding that it is necessary to maintain decency, sacredness, modesty, female safety or the family unit.

In Judaism

In traditional Jewish synagogues, the females' section is separated from the males' section by a wall or curtain called a mechitza.

In Israel there are a few "modesty buses", serving ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods, which are segregated by sex, with men in front and women in the back of the bus.

In Israel, there is new research that shows how both boys' and girls' performance can be increased at school, with a higher ratio of girls to boys in the classroom: "Keep Boys and Girls Together, New Research Suggests"

In Islam

Islam discourages social interaction between men and women but not all interaction between men and women. This is shown in the example of Khadija, who employed Muhammad and met with him to conduct trade before they were married, and in the example set by the other wives of Muhammad, who taught and counselled the men and women of Medina.

The textual basis for insisting on total segregation of the sexes is the hadith on zina (fornication and adultery) of the limbs narrated from Ibn Mas`ud by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad with a strong chain: "The two eyes commit zina, the two hands commit zina, the two feet commit zina, and the genitals commit zina." Another wording with a passable chain in the Musnad includes the tongue and specifies in the end: "Then the genitals actualize it or belly it.". However, it does not necessarily follow that this hadith can be used as justification for saying "Therefore, according to Shari'ah, to look, speak, listen, etc. to any Ghayr Mahram (women you are not related to or married to) except at the time of extreme necessity is Haraam and impermissible."

Sex segregation is strictly enforced in some Islamic countries.

In Christianity

The terms "gender apartheid" and "sexual apartheid" have also been used to describe differential treatment of women in institutions such as the Church of EnglandWomen clergy accuse Church of sexual apartheid | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited or the Roman Catholic Church. See, for example, Patricia Budd Kepler in her 1978 Theology Today article "Women Clergy and the Cultural Order".Theology Today - Vol 34, No. 4 - January 1978 - ARTICLE - Women Clergy And The Cultural Order

In churches, men and women sit together in most Western Catholic parishes, while in many Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox parishes, there is a separation of genders. This is not as common in the New World as it is in the Old World, especially in more rural areas where men will sit on the right (near Christ's icon) and women will sit on the left (near Mary's icon).

In education

In Louisiana following the forced race integration of public schools, the schools were segregated by sex. St. Bernard and Jefferson Parishes (surrounding New Orleans) instituted sex segregation to prevent black and white students from dating. The last year of sex segregation in Jefferson Parish public schools was 1975.

See also

External links

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