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Sweden's minister of trade Ewa Björling said the retouched images are a "sad example" of women oppression.
"Women can not be retouch away in reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to appear [in public] or work, they lose about half their intellectual capital", she told Metro.
"These pictures is sad example that shows that there is a long way to go in terms of equality between men and women in Saudi Arabia".
Women's rights in Saudi Arabia are defined by Islam and tribal customs. Human Rights Watch said in a report that the Saudi guardianship system continues to treat women as minors. Under this discriminatory system, girls and women of all ages are forbidden from traveling, studying, or working without permission from their male guardians.
Although the edited catalogue was produced by a third-party franchise, it is highly unlikely no one at Ikea was aware of the requested edits.
"We should have reacted and realised that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the Ikea group values'', Ikea's official statement read.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 03 October 2012 05:14)