Shops in Australia have pulled Grand Theft Auto V from their shelves, in response to a petition demanding sales of the game stopped because of its depiction of violence against a woman.
Two shops, Target and Kmart, have stopped selling the game, though they will continue to sell other violent and offensive DVDs and games.
The decision followed a Change.org petition, which received 45,600 signatures, asking that Target withdraw the game. The petition was titled ‘Target: Withdraw Grand Theft Auto 5 – this sickening game encourages players to commit sexual violence and kill women’.
The petition says that the “misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women”, and links sexual arousal and violence.
The petition pointed to videos on YouTube that depict violent acts, including the torture and abuse of a woman.
Target’s general manager of corporate affairs, Jim Cooper, said the decision was made following extensive community and customer concern about the game.
"We've been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game's content," Mr Cooper said.
"We've also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue. However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers."
Target and Kmart have different owners from their US namesakes and are not affiliated with them. Target will continue to sell other DVDs and games with high age-ratings, it said.
"While these products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers,” said Cooper.
Reactions on Twitter and elsewhere were furious — with users arguing that the 18+ rating for the game means that children and vulnerable people should not be playing it anyway. Others pointed out that other toys sold in the stores are problematic for women, including Barbies that enforce negative gender stereotypes.
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