Katie Byrne calls for ‘stalking themed’ Valentine’s card to be cancelled
Offensive Valentine’s Day cards with “romantic stalking” should be immediately removed from online stores, a police chief has urged.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katie Byrne – who has been a victim of stalking – said a product with misogynistic language and a convicted rapist was “no joke”.
A year ago, the police chief took to social media to call for greeting cards and gift companies selling “track-themed” Valentine’s Day cards.
Following her remarks, the greeting card company Thortful pulled designs containing the phrase: “Stalker? I’d rather say, future husband.”
Ms Bourne also slammed the product on Etsy, including one featuring characters from Netflix’s hit series You, which included gruesome kidnapping and murder scenes.
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A year later, Ms Byrne again attacked the business magnate, saying “there is no place in the world today to glorify tracking”.
She said: “What have we learned from last year?
“Why is this still happening, and when will retailers who refuse to withdraw these items realize that they are engaging in stalking to the detriment of current and future victims?
“It may look like a greeting card or a joke, but these designs use threatening and misogynistic language, they turn stalking into a joke and belittle criminality.
“This year, I’ve even seen cards romanticizing prolific serial killer, rapist and convicted child molester Richard Ramirez. It’s far from a joke.”
Etsy, one of the companies named by the PCC last year, publicly celebrates “female entrepreneurship”, saying 86% of its UK sellers are women.
Since stalking is a crime that one in five women will experience in their lifetime, the police chief believes it questions these marketplaces and retailers’ values for their customers and their social responsibility to educate their sellers about what’s right for their online store.
Ms Byrne added: “Despite their policies allowing these tracking-themed cards and gifts to remain on their sites, certain online marketplaces and retailers do not acknowledge that tracking is an extremely harmful crime. Whether the design focuses on a pop culture figure or a real-life serial killer – there’s no place for glorified stalking in today’s world.
“I continue to successfully bid and receive funding to lead the way in stalking intervention and victim advocacy services in Sussex. Successful collaboration with Sussex Police, partners and agencies has been instrumental in increasing public awareness of reporting stalking Awareness and confidence in crime are essential.
“It was welcome news to hear this week that the government has made stalking and harassment a priority offence in the Online Safety Act. It’s a step forward in revealing the seriousness of stalking – but we sell Everyday retailers of these items need to step up.”
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