Retailers accused of sexualising children

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The Independent Online

Primark, which today withdrew a padded bikini top aimed at young girls, is not the first high street chain to face allegations that its products were encouraging the sexualisation of children.

In 2006 supermarket giant Tesco agreed to remove a home pole-dancing set from the toys and games section of its website.



The £49.97 Peekaboo Pole Dancing kit included an extendable pole, frilly garter, a DVD to demonstrate sexy dance moves and fake money to reward budding dancers.



Tesco removed the product from the toy section of its website but said it would remain on sale as a Fitness Accessory.



In 2007 NUT General Secretary Steve Sinnott told BBC's Radio Four's Today programme that childhoods were being shortened by the marketing of items such as the pole dancing kit.



He also hit out at Asda for selling black and pink lace lingerie "including push-up bras for nine-year-olds".



Asda denied the allegation, saying it had never sold a push-up bra for a nine-year-old, and added that black and pink lace knickers which had been on sale were withdrawn around five years earlier.



The supermarket giant, which was one of the first retailers to sign up to online forum Mumsnet's Let Girls Be Girls campaign this year, said it took its duty as a responsible retailer "very seriously indeed".



In 2008 Tesco was criticised for selling an adult-style padded bra alongside vests in the children's clothing section.



Tesco said: "There are training bras of this type sold in every clothes retailer on the high street and there have been for years.



"Far from enhancing breasts or sexualising young girls, this product is designed to protect and cover girls' modesty at the sensitive time when they are developing."



Disney apologised last year after children's knickers bearing the slogan Dive In went on sale in the UK.



The underwear, sold as part of a pack of five by Asda, used the swimming pool theme of the film High School Musical 2.



A Disney spokeswoman said using the text on underwear was "a genuine oversight".



Asda said the underwear was "completely innocent" and it had not meant to cause any offence to customers.



WHSmith announced last year that it was withdrawing Playboy stationery, including a pencil case featuring the famous bunny logo.



The stationer said it was part of a review of its fashion stationery and would not be drawn on whether criticism about the brand being sold to schoolchildren had affected its decision.



The withdrawal was welcomed by Consumer Focus.



Then chief executive Ed Mayo described a warped "bombardment" of children's lives with adult sexuality and said he was "delighted" WHSmith had "done the right thing".

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