Kmart is having a doomed-if-you-do, doomed-if-you-don’t dilemma after pulling a child bride costume from shelves across Australia.
The retail giant’s move comes after Melbourne mum Shannon B created a change.org petition, with 200 signatures, to get rid of the $6 “beyond inappropriate and offensive” dress-up piece.
Hours later a counter-petition was launched with more than 3000 signatures demanding Kmart put the dress back on shelves.
“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. That’s one million child marriages per month!” Shannon said in the original petition.
“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.
“Child marriage means child abuse and torture in its worst forms - paedophilia, child rape, child slavery, child sex trafficking.”
World Vision Australia confirmed the statistics in the original petition align with global data.
“Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume,” a Kmart spokesperson told 7News. “We have made the decision to withdraw this product.”
The opposing petition already has 3000 more signatures than the initial petition urging Kmart to ditch the costume.
“A lot of parents disagree and want it put back on the shelves as they believe there is nothing wrong with it,” petition owner Sally Lord said.
“Maybe reword it so it doesn’t contain the word marriage or bride?”
“Let kids be kids for goodness sake. Stop making everything dirty and realise kids just want to play,” one user wrote on the petition.
“Removing it was stupidly pandering to an unreasonably offended tiny percentage of people,” said another.
“Kids love dress ups and weddings are all about love this is a good thing. Kmart if you really want to do something to help, donate the profit sold to an organisation that is helping these poor girls being forced to marry,” another parent said.
“Whatever your view of the Kmart costume, it’s good that people are discussing the serious and important issue of child marriage,” World Vision’s Child Rights Advocate Mercy Jumo told HuffPost Australia.
“650 million women in the world today were married before they turned 18.
“These women and girls are less likely to gain an education and more likely to become victims of domestic violence.”
World Vision CEO Claire Rogers added no-one should trivialise the global issue of child marriage.
“Kids love playing dress ups as all different things but as a mother, I’d love to see girls dress up as doctors and lawyers as well as brides and princesses.”