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Female images excluded from Jerusalem billboards

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 6 Jan 2012 11:29 AM
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NEW YORK (TrustLaw) - An Israeli credit card company has deliberately excluded female images from its advertisements in Jerusalem, activists say.

Women's faces have disappeared from billboards across the city in recent months following pressure from ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews who find them offensive. Many posters have been vandalised.

A nationwide campaign by Isracard, featuring a series of celebrities, excludes actress Gila Almagor in its billboards in Jerusalem although advertisements with her image appear elsewhere in the country, according to a report in Haaretz.

Activists working to bring images of women back onto billboards in Jerusalem have started a protest on Isracard's Facebook page.

“After two and a half months, we have brought about a change in Jerusalem regarding women pictured in advertising and you see more women. But it’s not surprising that not everyone has gotten the message and continues to relate to Jerusalem as a Haredi advertising zone,” said Rabbi Uri Ayalon, leader of a group fighting gender segregation.

Isracard said it was the company responsible for advertising in Jerusalem which selected which images to display.

An Israeli fashion brand also came in for criticism recently when it removed women from its Jerusalem advertisements during a nationwide campaign. The company cropped out a female model's head from posters it put up in the city, although the full image ran elsewhere. 

Jerusalem's buses have not carried postsers of women for several years. The company responsible for placing ads on buses says it's not worth it because ultra-Orthodox extremists vandalise the buses.

This week, the High Court of Justice instructed the state and advertising companies to respond in 21 days to a petition by activists to return images of women to advertising on buses and other locations, according to Haaretz.

The battle over advertising comes amid growing gender segregation in Jerusalem, where women are often made to sit at the back of buses serving ultra-Orthodox areas, despite court rulings that they can sit where they like.

Although Haredin number only 10 percent of Israel's population their high birthrates and concentration in Jerusalem have stoked fears among the country's secular majority of religious interference in their lifestyle. 

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