Women in combat.
Women in combat.Israel news photo: Flash 90

Advertisements that feature pictures of women must be allowed in all parts of Jerusalem, the State Prosecution announced Wednesday.

“Erasing every hint of the female sex from outdoor advertisements deals a blow to women's honor, to their right to equality and to their freedom of expression,” the State Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. “It also violates the advertisers' right to freedom of speech,” it added.

The announcement came in response to a complaint from the “Yerushalmi movement for a pluralistic Jerusalem,” which expressed anger over removal of ads with pictures of women in some hareidi religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

However, many hareidi religious Jews contend that the use of pictures of women to sell products dishonors women, and is actually a means of exploiting their gender. The manipulation of public sentiment and increase of sales through the use of imagery has long been studied in mass communications courses at colleges and universities, and is one of the first concepts taught to those who learn the basics of advertising and public relations.

Earlier this month, the Yerushalmi movement petitioned the High Court of Justice against the exclusion of women from ads displayed on public buses traveling through the capital. The petition was filed by Attorney Aviad HaCohen against the Transportation Ministry, the Egged Bus Company, and the C'naan Media Advertising Company.

The petitioners had tried to purchase advertising space with C'naan at one point for ads that included photographed women dressed in “regular, completely modest, unrevealing and unoffending clothes,” according to the court papers. However, the firm turned down the account, citing fears that the buses would be vandalized by radical elements protesting the ads.