Kmart has pulled a Halloween costume from their shelves in Australia after a woman created a petition, accusing the company of promoting forced child marriage.
Shannon B. organized the petition on Change.org after discovering the children’s costume in a Kmart store, which was called the “Bride Costume” and showed a little girl wearing a white dress and headband veil. According to the packaging, the costume was designed for little girls between the ages of four and six to wear.
However, Shannon claimed that the bridal gown was “beyond inappropriate” and normalized forced child marriage, which continues to be a problem around the world.
“Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately. Please help me get this message to Kmart by signing this petition,” she wrote on the page.
“Each year, 12 million children (girls as young as 6 years old – the same size as this ‘costume’) are sold or married off by their family without their consent,” she continued. “That’s one million child marriages per month!”
“That equates to 23 children every minute or 1 child every 2 minutes. If this continues, 150 million more children will be married by the year 2030,” Shannon added. “Child marriage means child abuse and torture in its worst forms – pedophilia, child rape, child slavery, child sex trafficking.”
“Kmart -Take this child bride costume off your shelves,” she demanded.
A representative with World Vision Australia, which is a branch of the international humanitarian organization, later confirmed those statistics were accurate to the Huff Post.
Within five days, Shannon had garnered over 500 signatures of people supporting her cause. By Thursday afternoon, Shannon announced on the page that Kmart had officially removed the costume from their shelves in Australia two days earlier.
“Through this petition, we have made Kmart aware of their responsibility as a global franchise to no longer be ignorant to such pertinent global issues,” she wrote.
In a statement issued to 7 News Australia on Tuesday, Kmart apologized for the costume and said they did not mean to offend anyone.
“Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume,” a spokesperson for the company told the outlet. “It was not intended to cause offense and we sincerely apologize. We have made the decision to withdraw this product.”
A representative for Kmart did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
RELATED: The Pop Culture-Inspired Costumes You Should Definitely Skip This Halloween
In the wake of the costume’s removal, other people, including a woman named Sally Lord, have expressed their distaste for the decision in a separate petition and argued that Kmart should let children be children.
“Recently you took away a role play wedding dress AKA Bride costume for young children as a mother believed it portrayed child marriage and she was upset by it,” Lord wrote. “A lot of parents disagree and want it put back on the shelves as they believe there is nothing wrong with it.”
“It helps kids with their imagination,” she continued. “I have children of my own and if they want to dress up an play make-believe marriage then I’m not stopping them. [B]y taking this off the shelves you have taken away that dream to children like my own who wish to dress up as a bride or wear it/hack it for a Halloween.”
The opposing petition has raised over 3,700 signatures so far.
Source: Read Full Article