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No Girls Allowed? Ikea Deletes Women From Saudi Catalogs

Ikea is coming under fire for deleting women from the Saudi version of its bargain furniture catalogs.

A person holds in Stockholm the October 1, 2012 issue of the free daily Metro newspaper, featuring two versions of the same photo from Swedish furniture giant Ikea's yearly catalog -- the Swedish catalog (L) and the Saudi (R) one.
A person holds in Stockholm the October 1, 2012 issue of the free daily Metro newspaper, featuring two versions of the same photo from Swedish furniture giant Ikea's yearly catalog -- the Swedish catalog (L) and the Saudi (R) one.

Sweden's free newspaper, Metro, on Monday compared Swedish and Saudi versions of the catalogs and found that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical scenes.

The report raised questions in Sweden about Ikea's commitment to gender equality, the Associated Press reported.

Sweden's minister of trade, Ewa Björling, called the retouched images a "sad example" of female oppression.

"Women can not be retouch[ed] away in reality," Swedish Wire quoted her as saying. "If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to appear [in public] or work, they lose about half their intellectual capital."

Ikea initially declined to comment on the matter.

But the company later released a statement expressing regret, saying "We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values."

Ikea officials planned to review company procedures, but it remained unclear whether the Saudi catalog will continue to be distributed.

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