A grocery store in the United Kingdom hatched a plan that most would consider rather normal: Curtailing shoplifters.
So a sign reading "Help us build safer communities — report shoplifting to a member of staff" was placed by the tampons in a Tesco store in Kensington, London, BuzzFeed News reported.
Soon a photo of the sign was posted on Twitter with the following retort: "We really need a genuine conversation as a society about what 'safety' means."
Spotted by @HMPSurvival. We really need a genuine conversation as a society about what 'safety' means. https://t.co/jrH2rx6h3W— Oonagh Ryder (@Oonagh Ryder)1580303903.0
"Signs like these encourage ordinary people to be suspicious and resentful toward their neighbors, rather than be angry about the root causes of someone needing to shoplift menstrual products," the poster, Oonagh Ryder, told BuzzFeed News. "The UK has very high levels of inequality due to the decisions of successive governments, with increasing numbers of people unable to afford basic necessities."
The sentiment caught fire, the outlet reported. Here are just a few of the subsequent reactions:
- "Shoplifting isn't the problem," another Twitter user added. "It's the fact that sanitary products aren't free and accessible to those who menstruate."
- Another user noted, "If the government can offer free condoms then they should offer free sanitary products."
- "If I see someone stealing feminine hygiene products of all things from a huge chain supermarket, I'm minding my business.... and you should, too," another Twitter user said.
- "These products should be free," yet another user declared. "I'ma pretend I ain't seen nothin', ladies."
Caving to the mob
With that, Tesco caved — apologizing for the sign and removing it, BuzzFeed News reported, adding that a company spokesman said claimed the sign in the viral photo was placed "in error."
"We know that the cost of buying essential sanitary products can be a real struggle for some, which is why we were the first retailer to cover the cost of the 'tampon tax' [also known as the 'pink tax'] to make these items more affordable," the spokesperson added to the outlet. “We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores and are very sorry for any offense caused."