Attention, Kmart shoppers: The child "Bride Costume" will no longer be available in Australia after a petition accused the store of supporting child marriage, People reports. "Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately," petitioner Shannon B (surname not given) wrote on Change.org. "Please help me get this message to Kmart by signing this petition." Indeed, Kmart pulled the Halloween costume—a white dress and veil for girls ages 4 to 6—after the petition garnered over 500 votes in five days. "It was not intended to cause offence and we sincerely apologize," a Kmart rep tells 7 News Australia. "We have made the decision to withdraw this product."
Shannon rolled out worldwide stats about child marriage that HuffPo has confirmed as accurate: "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 without their consent. That's one million child marriages per month!" she wrote. "That equates to 23 children every minute or 1 child every 2 minutes." But a counter-petition called "Let kids be kids bring back the dress Kmart" argues that "a lot of parents disagree" with Kmart's move. Petitioner Sally Lord says it "helps kids with their imagination" to "dress up an[d] play. ... Maybe reword it so it doesn't contain the word marriage or bride?" Her petition has nearly 4,300 signatures to date. (Read more child marriage stories.)