IKEA Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit in Israel for Male-Only Catalog Aimed at Ultra-Orthodox Jews

The cover of a 2017 Ikea catalog targeted toward ultra-Orthodox Jews. Photo courtesy of Sam Sokol

An Ikea catalog aimed at Israel’s Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community has spurred a class-action suit on the grounds of gender discrimination.

The 2017 catalog, which was marketed to religious neighborhoods around the country, featured photos of Haredi men and boys in its home-furnishing layouts but excluded images of women or girls.

Ikea’s Swedish headquarters issued an apology at the time after widespread condemnation from Israeli rights organizations.

The 2018 catalog geared toward the Haredi market contained no photos of either men or women.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week against the Israeli division of Ikea and its director, Shuki Koblenz, charges that the exclusion of females “sends a serious and difficult message that women have no value and that there is something wrong with their presence, even in the family-home space depicted in the catalog.”

The complaint seeks $4 million in compensation for Haredi women, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Religious modesty and the marginalization of women have long been flashpoints in Israel, where many Haredi rabbis have deemed it unholy to portray women’s images in everything from newspapers and government notices to billboards and bus ads.

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Source: Religion News Service