Philippines mall pulls T-shirt appearing to justify rape after online backlash

The T-shirt, sold by SM Supermalls in the boys section, had “It’s not rape, It’s a snuggle with a struggle” emblazoned across front

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One of the biggest department stores in the Philippines has been forced to withdraw a T-shirt which appeared to justify rape after outrage erupted online.

The offending item, sold in the boys section at SM Supermalls, was emblazoned with the logo: “It’s not rape. It’s a snuggle with a struggle”.

An image of the T-shirt posted on writer Karen Kunawicz’s Facebook attracted nearly 4,000 shares with people taking to other social networking sites to express their outrage.

Writing on Facebook a few minutes after posting the image Ms Kunawicz said: “I count myself among those worked really hard especially in the 90's for the rights of girls and women so it really got me upset. I was shaking when I took it. I wanted to throw up. ”

Celine Ulgado said on Facebook: “SM needs to not only pull this shirt, they need to issue a very public apology to rape victims everywhere, and make a costly monetary donation to crisis centers that help rape victims.” 

The issue also exploded on Twitter. User Edward Ramirez said: “I just saw the ‘It’s not rape, it’s snuggle with a struggle’ T-shirt. Disgusted to say the least.”

Ms Kunawicz came across the T-shirt in the boy’s section of the department store of SM Supermalls, a supermarket giant with 43 branches across the Philippines and more in China.

On SM Supermalls ‘info’ page, the retail giant boasts a “program of SM Prime’s [SM Supermall’s owner] corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.”

This morning the retailer posted an apology on their Facebook page and claimed the offending T-shirt had been withdrawn from all their stores.

In the statement SM Store said: “SM does not support such irresponsible and malicious acts that mock important and sensitive social issues.

“We have immediately pulled out all the t-shirts of the consignor that distributes them, and we are investigating why it was included in our delivery of assorted T-shirts.”

Meanwhile, Ms Kunawicz has appealed to social media networks to help find the creators of the T-shirts, “That shirt upset more people than I thought,” she posted, and added: “can you help us find out who REALLY made them?”

The news comes following the clothing brand Bench/'s apology after a male star led a female model onto the Naked Truth stage show in Manila on a leash. The act provoked widespread condemnation on social media leading to the clothing store, based in the Philippines, to apologise.

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