An indictment was filed Thursday against Jerusalem resident Shlomo Fuchs, 44, an ultra-Orthodox man who hurled sexist slurs at a female soldier on a public bus in the capital.What did he do? Apparently he called her a "prutza", which means a slut or a harlot. Not a very nice thing to do, but does this amount to sexual harassment?
Police officials said Fuchs' behavior was unruly, and that he sexually harassed the soldier, Doron Matalon, by humiliating her and making sexual remarks.
The court also stated that sexual harassment does not only apply when the harasser demands something of sexual nature from the harassed, but also when the harassed is humiliated based on remarks relating to his or her sex. The judge ruled such was the case in this incident, since "there is no dispute that Fuchs spoke bluntly and shouted harsh and humiliating words at the soldier aboard the bus, calling her a 'slut' three times."I have to agree with Fuchs' attorney. It seems to me that this is all a product of the media-fed frenzy of incitement against the ultra-Orthodox: the police and the court are abusing their power to legally harass Fuchs.
"I am not a sexual offender," Fuchs told his attorney afterwards. "If anything – she harassed me. I wanted to move away and she kept moving closer."
Fuchs' attorney claimed this was not a criminal offense. "We live in a free country. We're allowed to curse, it's part of the freedom of expression," he explained.
If the court does decide this is a sexual harassment case, said the attorney, then any man who calls a woman a "bitch" or other curse words would be considered a sexual offender.
Once again we can learn a lesson from this. First of all, I do not think that the Rambam or the Chafetz Chaim would approve of calling this soldier a prutza, even if she did not follow the etiquette of the mehadrin line. We really should be careful about what we say. Even our mundane speech should be something that is worth studying.
Secondly, what I quoted recently from chapter 20 of "The Path of the Just".
Let's hope that things will calm down soon.