Tesco, a British grocery chain that works in many countries, told BuzzFeed News it has deleted signs put above tampons and other menstrual health products that asked people to report shoplifting of these items in its store in Kensington, London.
Twitter user Oonagh Ryder, from London, shared a picture of the sign placed by boxes of sanitary towels and tampons that read: ‘Help us build safer communities – report shoplifting to a member of staff.’
A spokesperson for the company said that it is “very sorry for any offense caused” and claimed that this depicted sign was placed “in error.”
Carl Cattermole, a London resident, first clicked the photo last week and sent it to his friend Oonagh Ryder.
“Signs like these encourage ordinary people to be suspicious and resentful toward their neighbors, rather than be angry about the root causes of someone needing to shoplift menstrual products,” Ryder told BuzzFeed News. “The UK has very high levels of inequality due to the decisions of successive governments, with increasing numbers of people unable to afford basic necessities.”
Her tweet and people’s comments went viral, and it started the conversation online about the cost burdens placed on people who need menstrual health products.
“Shoplifting isn’t the problem,” said one Twitter user. “It’s the fact that sanitary products aren’t free and accessible to those who menstruate.”
Many people said these kinds of products to be promoted or offered for free. People noted condoms are often given out for free.
In response, Tesco said “We know that the cost of buying essential sanitary products can be a real struggle for some, which is why we were the first retailer to cover the cost of the ‘tampon tax’ also known as the ‘pink tax’ to make these items more affordable,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
“We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores and are very sorry for any offense caused,” they added.
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