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Ikea 'erases' women from Saudi catalogue

Ikea 'erases' women from Saudi catalogue

Published: 01 Oct 2012 08:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Oct 2012 08:08 GMT+02:00

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has removed out all the women from the version of the company's famed catalogue to be distributed in Saudi Arabia, prompting a stern reaction from Sweden's trade minister.

Nearly 200 million copies of Ikea's forthcoming catalogue will be printed in 27 languages for distribution in 38 countries.

And the catalogues will be nearly identical, save for those printed for distribution in Saudi Arabia, a country where women don't get to vote, drive cars, or move freely on the streets, the Metro newspaper reported.

In the Saudi version of Ikea's annual booklet, all the women who appear in images featured in the catalogue in other countries have been removed via photo retouching.

In the Swedish version of the Ikea catalogue, for example, a mother can be seen standing at a sink next to her child in a stylized bathroom.

In the Saudi catalogue, however, there is no mother; the child stands at the sink alone.

In another image, a woman and a little girl who appear to be studying in the Swedish catalogue have been completely removed from the Saudi version, leaving an empty room.

Ikea has even gone so far as to remove from the Saudi version of the catalogue the image of a female designer who helped design the company's "PS" line of home furnishings.

While refusing to comment on any company specifically, Swedish Minister of Trade Ewa Björling made no secret of how she felt about the images.

"It's impossible to retouch women out of reality," she told Metro.

"These images are yet another regrettable example that shows we have a long road ahead when it comes to gender equality in Saudi Arabia."

Attorney Claes Borgström, who served as Sweden's gender equality ombudsman between 2000 and 2007 also slammed Ikea's decision to remove women from the Saudi catalogue.

"I think the Swedish business community should uphold existing ethical principles. You can't participate in the marketing and selling of goods in a way that discriminates against women in this way," he told the paper.

According to Borgström, Ikea would be better off "abstaining from the [Saudi] market completely".

"One can say that [Ikea] is supporting a view of women that we in Sweden distance ourselves from," Borgström told Metro.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

17:41 October 1, 2012 by ramshead
It is totally shameful that a modern liberated country like Sweden would allow IKEA to bow to the Saudi's over having women in their catalogs by removing them all over money. Women are treated as objects in Saudi Arabia and if you ladies in Sweden do not use your influence to stop this indecent removal of women from that catalog going to the Saudi's, you will set your woman's movement back a hundred years. And if the Saudi's reject those catalogs with images of women, then write them off as a bad investment.
17:42 October 1, 2012 by calebian22
IKEA is already there. They should release the catalogue as is. Let the idiots get all in a twitter over a woman in pj's.
11:19 October 2, 2012 by rise
"One can say that [Ikea] is supporting a view of women that we in Sweden distance ourselves from," Borgström told Metro.

One can also notice Ikea is running a prosperous business, leaving politics to others. One shouldn't read too much into this. But as a politician, and a woman at that, Borgström probably doesn't agree.

Business is business; people's feelings something else. How would a country like Sweden with "no" population ever be able to compete with the rest of the world if other people's "feelings" always were in the way? Whatever you do there'll always be someone who feels hurt. When running a business one cannot let that fact cloud one's judgment.
17:25 October 2, 2012 by friendonlyyours
I totally agreed with @rise.

If your product (ikea) is good then it does not mean whole world is running because of Sweden, if Sweden can force their and language and rules in every they also have right to implement their rules. Europe and all these countries are always double standards.

Every country has own rules and Saudia is Islamic country and practicing Muslim never allow to show their women to other and not see others. Islam is giving equal rights to man an women but those are different for both. Islamic society give peaceful and relaxing life to their women and men need to go out and work but it does not mean Islamic women can't work she can but in proper way. No doubt a women can do anything a men can do and in some cases more better but she is not meant to be same as men.

In EU women is symbol of vulgarity, they have so called equal right mean working like machines like men and then get stressful and material life while she worth more relaxing life as Islamic point of you and Islam is giving more rights to women more than any religion.

What is the problem with those people who are saying Ikea why they don't have women in catalog other than aggressiveness, if they are so aggressive why don't they stop their store their rather following the rules of any country.

Who have given them right to interfere to other countries rules?
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