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Online charity campaign forces Topman to remove 'domestic abuse' t-shirts

One of Topman's recalled t-shirts
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Online charity campaign forces Topman to remove 'domestic abuse' t-shirts

Fundraising | Vibeka Mair | 15 Sep 2011

Domestic abuse prevention charity Tender Education & Arts has moved Topman to stop selling t-shirts containing slogans which hinted at making excuses for domestic abuse and comparing women to dogs.

Tender began lobbying Topman about the t-shirts this week, in response to a campaign which started on Twitter.

Twitter users strongly objected to a Topman t-shirt, costing £16, with the printed slogan: "Nice new girlfriend – what breed is she?"

Another t-shirt, priced at £14, featured a list of apologies for doing something wrong. Many online users criticised it for alluding to excuses for abusing a woman. The t-shirt’s slogan read: “I’m so sorry, but…” with a list of excuses underneath it including: "You provoked me"; "I hate you"; and "I couldn’t help it".

Tender set up a JustGiving campaign, asking people to donate to them instead of buying the shirts; and also started a Facebook page called 'sTopman' demanding that the retailer withdraw the t-shirts from sale.

Just a few hours after the backlash on the Facebook page which quickly gained 500 supporters, Topman decided to stop selling the t-shirts. A statement on its Facebook page says:

“We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts. Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning we have made the decision to remove these from store and online as soon as possible. We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.”

Doireann Larkin, campaign manager at Tender said:

“Each year 100 women and 20 men are murdered as a result of domestic abuse in the UK and many more are affected. This can only happen within a society which is tolerant of domestic violence. These kinds of slogans provide a context where we accept the image of the domestic violence perpetrator as the ‘cheeky chap’ who can be excused. 

"These messages contribute to the likelihood of violence occurring, the acceptance of it as a social norm and the pressure on victims not to complain. We’ve seen the results of these attitudes and we simply can’t take it as a joke.”

“We are really pleased that Topman have taken notice of our campaign and the feedback from other objectors and have responded positively by removing these t-shirts from sale and we would like to thank them for that. 

"Comments on blogs and articles have been appealing to Topman to right their wrong by donating and we hope that they consider this."

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