Stocking Lads' Mags Could Prompt Sexual Harassment Claims, Lawyers Warn

Shops Could Face Sexual Harassment Claims Over Lads' Mags

High Street retailers could face sexual discrimination or harassment claims if they continue to stock lads' mags, a group of equal rights lawyers have warned.

The Lose the Lads' Mags campaign, by pressure groups UK Feminista and Object, says displaying publications in stores or requiring staff to handle such magazines could amount to sex discrimination or sexual harassment.

High street retailers are being warned to remove magazines that display naked and near-naked images of women on their covers or face the risk of legal action.

Supermarkets could face sexual discrimination or harassment claims

In a letter in the Guardian, 11 equal rights lawyers say there have been previous cases of staff suing employers in respect to exposure to pornographic material at work, and called on retailers to stop selling "lads' mag" publications.

"High-street retailers are exposing staff and, in some cases, customers to publications whose handling and display may breach equality legislation," the letter, published on Monday, said.

"Displaying lads' mags and pornographic papers in 'mainstream' shops results in the involuntary exposure of staff and, in some cases, customers to pornographic images.

"Every mainstream retailer which stocks lads' mags is vulnerable to legal action by staff and, where those publications are visibly on display, by customers."

The group says it has been contacted by employees who dislike handling such magazines but who feel they have no power to take the issue up with their employers.

UK Feminista and Object are discussing with lawyers about bringing a test case and will support employees who are uncomfortable with images of naked or near-naked women on magazines, the Guardian said.

Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista, told the newspaper: "For too long supermarkets have got off the hook, stocking lad's mags in the face of widespread opposition, but this time we have the law on our side.

"Every shop that sells lads' mags - publications which are deeply harmful to women - are opening themselves up to legal action."

Sophie Bennett, campaigns officer for Object, added: " Lads' mags dehumanise and objectify women, promoting harmful attitudes that underpin discrimination and violence against women and girls.

"Reducing women to sex objects sends out an incredibly dangerous message that women are constantly sexually available and displaying these publications in everyday spaces normalises this sexism."

Many praised the action with Clare McGlynn, Professor of Law at the University Durham, writing that their use of the law was "inspired":

However some criticised the move, arguing that magazines called 'woman's weekly' were discriminatory while one posted that gay magazines showing oiled bodies of men should also come under attack. Others added that women's magazines had just as negative an impact on women.

The latest bid comes amid a high profile campaign to put an end to The Sun's page three. Called No More Page 3, campaigners argue boobs aren't news. It started last summer when Lucy Holmes found the largest female image in The Sun was of a young woman showing her breasts, even though Jessica Ennis had just won her gold Olympic medal.


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