Ikea airbrushes women out of images in Saudi Arabian catalog

An image of a woman is removed from the Saudi catalog (pictured right).

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has erased women from the pages of its Saudi Arabian catalog.

The 2013 catalog, printed in 27 languages for distribution in 38 countries, looks almost alike worldwide, displaying identical interiors of kitchens and bathrooms. However, in the Saudi version women appear to be removed from the images. Metro Sweden first discovered the inconsistency on Ikea’s online catalogs earlier this week.

For example, in the Swedish version of the catalog, a mother can be seen standing at a sink beside her child in a bathroom. But in the Saudi catalog, the mother is absent.

In another image, a young girl who appears to be doing homework has also been airbrushed.

Under Saudi Arabia’s strict Muslim law, women are not allowed to drive, vote or be outside of their home without the guardianship of a male relative.

Sweden’s Minister for Trade Ewa Björling said the retouched images are a sad example of the oppression of women.

“You cannot retouch women from reality,” she told Metro. “If Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to be seen or work they miss out on half their intellectual capital. These images are yet another sad example of the long road to gender equality in Saudi Arabia.”

Ikea has since apologized for the catalog retouching. “As editors of the catalog, we are sorry about this,” Ikea spokesperson Josefin Thorell told Metro. “We should have reacted and seen that this is in conflict with Ikea’s values.”

The Ikea group will “revise their procedures” to avoid similar situations in the future. It is still unclear whether the Saudi catalogue will be withdrawn or not.

What remains unclear is who is responsible for the decision to airbrush women out of the catalog – Ikea or a local entity in Saudi Arabia.

A spokeswoman for Inter Ikea Systems, a branch of Ikea that oversees franchises, says that the Swedish retailer should take the blame.

“What has come out during our contacts with Saudi Arabia during the day is that it isn’t the local franchise that has done something wrong. It is our responsibility at Inter Ikea Systems,” Ulrika Englesson Sandman told Metro Sweden.

“The franchise owner has been presented with images without women. The image with a woman in the bathroom and the female designer could very well have been featured in the catalog for Saudi Arabia.”

Now Ikea are mulling over on how to proceed. One alternative is to print a new catalog.

“The catalog has already been distributed, are we going to print it again? Those are options we are looking at,” said Sandman.

Saudi Arabia has three Ikea stores, in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.