Australian Kmart, which has no relation to the Kmart in the United States, has been forced to pull a child bride Halloween costume off their shelves after over 500 people signed an online petition saying that the costume normalized human trafficking.
The petition, started by Shannon B., read:
"A child bride costume currently exists on Kmart shelves in children’s sizes. 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."
The campaign picked up over 500 signatures, prompting the retail store to pull the costume from their shelves.
“It was not intended to cause offense and we sincerely apologize,” a Kmart spokesman said. "We have made the decision to withdraw this product.”
In an update to the petition, Shannon B. wrote:
"Hello change makers! Thank-you for all your support in signing and sharing this petition! Because of our collective action, Kmart swiftly pulled the costume off its shelves (in Australia) by Tuesday afternoon, 22 October 2019."
"The victory of this petition has since attracted international attention - which is awesome! In response, UNICEF and World Vision have had opportunities to make media statements and therefore raise awareness around the issue of child brides and the reality they face in fighting this fight around the world, including westernized countries like USA and Australia."
"Shockingly, by 2030, 150 million more girls will be married in their childhood years so long as this issue is kept in the dark and world leaders do not prioritize it. If child weddings were eradicated, the children and women’s poverty cycle would improve and therefore the worlds."
"Through this petition, we have made Kmart aware of their responsibility as a global franchise to no longer be ignorant of such pertinent global issues."
Unsurprisingly, reactions on social media to the controversy has been mixed.
"It is sad those things happen but my daughters used to dress up and pretend to get married all the time," one user wrote. "There’s NOTHING wrong with it. I really believe people are looking for things to petition these days."
While another added: "I agree on the recall for a child bride costume. It is not acceptable. How sad it is that society has become so desensitized that they can't see the forest for the trees."
Another user concluded: "Are people going to pull the little mermaid too?? And most Disney costumes that look like brides? She was a child bride who ran away. They might as well cancel Halloween."