Saudi women have long been taking the back seat to their male counterparts.
Seeing women’s images removed in an Ikea catalog shows that reality.
The Swedish-based retailer airbrushed images of women in their annual catalog that were shipped to the religiously conservative Islamic kingdom.
Many people were upset about the images being removed including Sweden’s trade minister, Ewa Bjorling. She says that even though Saudi Arabia “has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality,” the images clearly show that it’s still around.
IKEA apologized for the airbrushing. They said:
“regrets what has happened and understands that people are upset.”
“It is not the local franchisee that has requested the retouch of the discussed pictures. The mistake happened during the work process occurring before presenting the draft catalog for IKEA Saudi Arabia. We take full responsibility for the mistakes made.”
Some were not upset. Blogger Eman Al Nafjan said:
“We’re beyond that right now in Saudi Arabia….”
“With internet and satellite TV, there’s really no such thing anymore as blacking out women or airbrushing out women. I would be upset if something like Google was doing it, but IKEA to do it, that’s just marketing — it’s not such a big deal.”
Most international magazines had been censored in Saudi Arabia. Magazines that show shoulders or stomachs were typically coloured in with black markers. Nowadays Nafjan says, people don’t try to cover up women magazines.
“It’s strange — almost like they gave up. I saw a woman wearing a miniskirt on a cover of a magazine when I was at the grocery store,” she said.
What do you think? Was IKEA insensitive about women’s equal rights?