The Australian branch of US retailer Kmart has removed a children’s wedding dress Halloween costume from sale following a complaint by a customer who said that it had connotations of child brides.
Made by Anko for children aged four to six, the costume included a dress and headband with veil and retailed at $6 (£3.19).
But the item was pulled by Kmart, two days after an anonymous individual started a petition calling for the costume to be taken off sale.
“A child bride costume currently exists on Kmart shelves in children’s sizes,” wrote “Shannon B”, on petition site Change.org.
“Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately.”
“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!” continued Shannon.
“Child marriage means child abuse and torture in its worst forms - paedophilia, child rape, child slavery, child sex trafficking. Kmart -Take this child bride costume off your shelves.”
It is not clear how much influence the petition had on Kmart’s decision - at the time of writing it had garnered only 215 signatures, with some signees claiming they had only added their names in order to criticise the action.
“I’m only signing because you’re butt hurt and you need to get a new hobby, seriously,” wrote Rochelle Mckenzie.
Good to see Kmart cashing in on the aspirational child-bride market for Halloween 😐 pic.twitter.com/zejTRUQetX— Jacqueline Maley (@JacquelineMaley)September 27, 2019
“I’m signing this petition because it is so over the top,” agreed Cheryl Campbell.
“Children love to play dress up. Shannon get a life and Kmart bring this costume back.”
However, Kmart told news.com.au they stood by their decision to withdraw the item from sale.
“Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume,” a spokesperson said.
“It was not intended to cause offence and we sincerely apologise. We have made the decision to withdraw this product.”
While there is no publicly available data on child marriage in Australia, from 2012 to 2014, authorities identified about 250 cases, although community groups argue the number is higher.
The country has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030.
Globally, one in five girls are married before they are 18, with Niger ranking as having the highest rate of child marriage in the world.