(Advisory: Strong language in headline, lede may offend some readers)
By Kieran Guilbert
LONDON, Jan 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Children’s clothes bearing the slogan ‘Slavery gets shit done’ have been pulled from sale by online retail giant Amazon.com Inc after criticism from shoppers and anti-slavery groups.
A range of products featuring the slogan, from mugs and bags to T-shirts modelled by young children, were listed by third-party sellers and have been removed from sale, Amazon said.
“All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “The products in question are no longer available.”
While the slavery-themed products are no longer available to buy on Amazon’s UK website, bags bearing the slogan were still on sale on the U.S.-based Amazon.com on Monday.
The sale of such items by a major retailer trivialises the global drive to end modern slavery, said charities Anti-Slavery International (ASI) and International Justice Mission (IJM) UK.
“If it is meant to be funny, it fails miserably,” Jakub Sobik of ASI told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
More than 40 million people were living as modern slaves last year - either trapped in forced labour or forced marriages - according to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and human rights group Walk Free Foundation.
“Children the same age as those modelling the T-shirts will be forced to work long hours for no pay in desperate conditions where starvation, beatings and sleep deprivation are common,” said David Westlake, chief executive of IJM UK.
“Rather than trivialising slavery, companies and the global community must recognise the vast injustice of modern slavery and work together to end it for good,” he added.
The imagery linked to slavery, and the issues it raises over history and identity, has stirred increasing debate with deep division over the fate of slavery-era statues in the United States, and worldwide outrage about slogans and pictures used by big brands.
British supermarket Waitrose this month pulled a brand of coffee off its shelves after shoppers noticed the packaging featured images of 19th-century slaves working on plantations. (Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)