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The UK’s shadow Culture Secretary, Harriet Harman, called on the online retailer Amazon to make a “substantial donation” to a women's refuge as an apology for selling T-shirts on its website which appeared to encourage the sexual and physical abuse of women.
The internet giant seemed to be offering for sale T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “Keep Calm and Hit Her”, on its UK site on Saturday morning only hours after it was pressured into removing other garments by the same company, which read “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot” and “Keep Calm and Rape Them”.
Amazon took down pages offering the rape T-shirts by mid-morning after receiving hundreds of angry complaints.
Harriet Harman said that Amazon's decision to sell the T-shirts in the first place was “absolutely outrageous”. She added: “Domestic violence and sex offences are not something people should make money out of. [Amazon's] supposed to be a public company.
“My suggestion is they give all profits they made from it to a women's refuge.” She also suggested they might give a “substantial donation” to End Violence Against Women and Women's Aid.
The company behind the controversial clothing, Solid Gold Bomb, was launched in Melbourne, Australia, in 2008 and has printing facilities in the US and Oxford. Its website boasted of selling “over a million T-shirts during the global financial crisis”; other T-shirts in the same range read: “Keep Calm and Knife Her,” “Keep Calm and Choke Her,” and “Keep Calm and Grope On”.
By 11.30am on Saturday, an Amazon UK spokesperson was saying the “Keep Calm and Hit Her” T-shirts were “not available for sale”. None of the offensive tops was available by Saturday afternoon. The company failed to answer additional questions, including how long the garments had been on sale or when the decision was made to take them off the site.
Solid Gold Bomb, which had taken its Facebook and Twitter pages off-line, was unable to comment on Saturday. When the company withdrew the rape T-shirts, it issued a statement on its website.
“The slogan,” it said, “had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against hundreds of thousands of dictionary words. Any offensive items that are remaining are certainly in the deletion queue and will be removed as soon as the processing is complete.”
While it said the company “did not in any way deliberately create the offensive T-shirts in question”, it added: “We're sorry for the ill-feeling this has caused!” - The Independent on Sunday