Teachers union attacks stores for ‘sexualisation’ of children

Supermarkets and advertisers were yesterday accused of deliberately targeting children and “infiltrating” their lives with sexually provocative clothing, toys and slogans.

The National Union of Teachers claimed education and enjoyment of childhood were being undermined by the “sexualisation” of prepubescent and adolescent girls through “inappropriate” lingerie and T-shirts and the selling of dolls that “reinforce the notion that image and fashion are everything”.

The allegations were the most eye-catching in a broadside against some of the country’s most famous commercial names for the ways they promoted food, clothes, toys and even expensive electrical gadgets to children whose families could least afford them.

The union’s new charter on commercialism, called Growing Up in a Material World, called on the government to set up a commission which could make industry “far more socially responsible” by extending advertising restrictions on television and introducing new controls over marketing elsewhere, including sponsorship, celebrity endorsement, mobile phone messaging and over the internet.

The union called for a ban on all marketing and advertising in schools, including voucher schemes.

The document, released on the eve of the NUT’s annual conference in Harrogate, said there was a trend for pre-teenage girls to wear “inappropriate and sexually provocative clothes”. It attacked Tesco for marketing a pole-dancing kit on the toys and games section of its website. It also raised examples such as Asda, which had been forced to remove from sale pink and black lace lingerie; Next, which took off sale T-shirts which had been on sale for girls as young as six with a slogan “so many boys, so little time”; and BHS for selling padded bras embellished with a “Little Miss Naughty” logo. Bratz dolls were described as examples of toys reinforcing children’s concerns over body image.

The union’s charter said: “An important aspect of education is to prepare pupils for adult life and that involves developing their abilities to think critically and draw their own conclusions.” It is concerned that advertising infiltration of children’s lives is undermining schools’ ability to carry out this role.

Asda said it had withdrawn the pink and black knickers about five years ago. Tesco denied its pole dancing kit was sexually oriented. It reflected “an exercise craze”.



Angry parents have forced Next to withdraw a T-shirt aimed at girls under six bearing the provocative slogan


Angry parents have forced Next to withdraw a T-shirt aimed at girls under six bearing the provocative slogan: ‘So many boys, so little time.’

Hundreds complained that the tops on sale at the high street chain presented youngsters as sexual objects.

Child welfare campaigners warned that the clothes were a symptom of the increasing pressure on children to grow up more quickly.

‘It is disgusting,’ said a spokesman for the charity Kidscape. ‘It is encouraging girls to look at themselves as sex objects.

‘This is not only harmful to their development, it is putting their safety at risk by sending signals saying “I’m fair game, talk to me if you like”.

‘Next is right to withdraw them and parents are right to be concerned.’

One mother, Rachel Brewer, 34, from South London, said: ‘I went into my local store to buy some clothes for my young daughter for our summer holiday and was absolutely horrified when I saw this T-shirt.

‘If my little girl, who is only three, had worn it, she would have been branded a tart. I find it incredibly offensive.’

The T-shirts have been on sale at £5.99 in stores across the country since January as part of Next’s summer ranges. The chain only decided to remove them after being bombarded with complaints.

A discussion on a radio show in London sparked a frenzy of phone calls which jammed its head office switchboard and prompted executives to act.

A spokesman for leading children’s charity NCH said: ‘We are concerned about the trend for children’s clothing and magazines to be quite adult and sexual.

‘Children are already under pressure to grow up quickly and these tops from Next were increasing that pressure.

‘Childhood is important and should not be something that youngsters rush to escape.

‘We wonder why there is a rising rate of teenage pregnancies. Well, there is a connection with this kind of thing. It is very irresponsible of manufacturers to make these kind of things.’

A statement from Next yesterday said: ‘This T-shirt was never meant to be offensive but, as a result of the radio programme making it clear that some people found it so, it has been taken off sale today.’

The controversy follows the removal of a range of sexually provocative underwear for girls from the Argos Additions catalogue after pressure from appalled parents and politicians.

The store was besieged with complaints at G- string pants and padded bras for girls as young as nine emblazoned with I Love Me.

Argos said it would discuss all future children’s ranges with Kidscape.

Last year, Woolworth’s banned the magazine Mad About Boys aimed at nine to 12-year-old girls which features articles on boyfriends and dieting, and has pin-ups of teenage boys.

Critics said the glossy monthly encourages under-age girls to become ‘sexualised’.

US is “deeply sorry” for murdering 9 Afgan children


General Davis Petraeus today announced that the US is “deeply sorry” for yesterday’s air strike in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan, a strike which killed nine children who were collecting firewood.

“These deaths should never have happened,” Petraeus insisted in the wake of angry condemnation from President Hamid Karzai and public protests on the streets of the Kunar Province, where there was already anger about a NATO offensive which killed 65 other civilians last month.

Reports say that several hundred protesters from nearby villages flocked to the capital of the province, chanting “death to America” and insisting apologies were simply not good enough any more, after nearly 10 years of NATO offensives.

But today’s apology was more than the victims of the previous offensive got, which was allegations by Gen. Petraeus that parents were deliberately burning their children to make NATO look bad and accusations that the locals were distributing “Taliban propaganda.”


Liberty Equals Nudity In The UK

By Sakina Mohamed

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 (Bernama) — A hundred thousand people in the United Kingdom have converted to Islam in the last decade, says broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth.

Yet the reaction of the British media towards this piece of revelation, and others related to Islam, have been dramatically negative.

Even its most liberal broadsheet, The Independent, billed the growth of conversion to Islam as the “Islamification of Britain”.

“Remember”, says Booth, “these are not racist pamphlets handed out by people on the borders of our society, this is our most highly respected broadsheet.

“You’ll get the idea that joining Islam is not really the trendy thing to do,” she chuckles, alluding to the slanders and mockeries thrown her way by the British press since she announced her conversion in September last year.

A quote by The Independent revealed just how negatively the British viewed her conversion: “What sort of woman freely converts to a religion that supports the torment, oppression and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women worldwide?”

“That is insane,” Booth tells a 300-strong audience in a public lecture at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, recently. “There is no critical thinking applied to Islam. None of the big philosophical questions were asked, when I wanted them to be asked so much. After I’d done interviews in Britain I was waiting for questions like “What is Allah like?” “What do you know about the Prophet (Muhammad)?” “What does it mean to pray five times a day?” “Is Islam spiritual?”

“But what I got was “Is that hijab tight on you?” “Don’t you miss going to the pub?”


Booth says the phrase “living in the middle ages” is regularly applied to the perceived Muslim way of life.

Instead, he British and American way of life is considered modern to be aspired to.

Islam is regarded as incompatible with British values, which was once a Christian nature, but no longer upheld or observed in any meaningful way. Booth herself was a Jew, but wasn’t brought up in a religious background. She claims that most children of white ethnic origin in Britain did not have a religion. It was only out habit that parents would put Christian in the census box.

“Certainly in my generation, nobody went regularly to church. And yet I did use to pray. As a seven-year-old, I would put my hands together and speak to God.”


“We presume that we are emotionally and psychologically richer than Muslim women,” says Booth, “but in our society now, liberty equals nudity.

She says as a woman in Britain, one has the right to wear “as little as possible at any given time”.

“You also have a need to look beautiful for men all the time at any age right up to retirement. If you don’t make the effort to titillate every man you meet and be attracted in a sexual way, you are “letting yourself go”.

“One of the worst things you can look like is like “a mother”. This is reflected in one of the insults that we have in our society – to look “mumsy”.

The role of motherhood is considered a dead end Imagine that.”

She says it was a sad thing that women had nowhere to grow to nor any aspiration to what they can become.

“Once you stop being sexually attractive, you only have death. So there’s being gorgeous and looked on by men and then there’s death, no in between as far as society’s use for you goes.

“But remember guys, this is liberty.”


She says the West has built a whole society around the reliance on sexualising women and children.

Two years ago, a major high-street chain sold thongs for 7-year-old girls. On the front panel was inscribed “so many boys, so little time”.

“And it had a cherry on it!” exclaims Booth. “For 7-year-old girls!”

However, she says she was happy that mothers in Britain reacted promptly to the distasteful product. Outraged and sickened, they came out in droves and set fire to the underwear in protest.

But Booth says the fact that a major company could think of making and distributing such article of clothing was telling on women’s standings in society.

The Playboy brand, which advocates young girls as playthings for men, is now on pencil cases for children as young as six.

The high street is reliant on fashion, hair products, make up.

“Because you’re worth it, we’re told. When the real message is, because you’re worth nothing else,” says Booth.


Booth admits her patronising views of Muslim women prior to her conversion. However, the trips she has taken to the Middle East as a journalist and in her capacity as a human rights activist, revealed to her the personality of Muslim women which she had never associated with.

Recounting a 2007 trip to Lebanon to interview a commander with the Hezbollah militia, Booth says she met female university students in full hijab who were outspoken, witty and charming.

“They were not at all the timid, soon-to-be-forced-into-marriage girls I would have imagined from what we often read in the West.

“They accompanied me to the interview a sheikh, and I was amazed of how freely they interrupted him while he talked, putting up a hand to ask him to pause while they translated.”

Back at home in the UK, Booth was filled with admiration for young Muslim women with two children, cook for their families, study for their medical degrees at night and can still do volunteer work on the weekends.

“Compare this to one of my non-Muslim friend with only one child who can barely hold down her part-time job without complaining about, don’t cook for their families and much less do a degree in evening or volunteer work!”

She attributes the energy to family and societal support as well as from prayers.

“I also think it’s from intelligence and no alcohol!” she laughs.


She says she now realize that emotionally and psychologically, Britain was poorer in the third world in many ways.

She says the UK has been accused of failing its children on childhood welfare coming bottom of the league table across 21 industrialized nations.

Despite being a rich country, the Children’s Commissioner for England says that the UK is churning out a generation of young people who are unhappy, unhealthy, engaging in risky behaviour, who have poor relationships with their family and their peers, who have low expectations and do not feel safe.

Meanwhile, UK Report findings reveal childhood poverty has doubled since 1979 while 31 per cent of children admit being drunk on two or more occasion.

“So hooray for freedom and liberty. Hooray for a world without a God and without ethical guidelines.

“Who can we blame but ourselves and our lack of moral guidance?” she asks.

Booth was in Malaysia as a guest speaker for Viva Palestina Malaysia, a local offshoot of the UK-based Viva Palestina, an international non-governmental organisation working for the speedy creation of a free Palestinian state.


BERNAMA – Liberty Equals To Nudity In The UK