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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444

Monday, 18 November 2013

“Apparently if you demean people with disability in French, then it doesn't count” ...

Last week, a US cosmetic pressure bowed to pressure from advocates to remove from sale a lipstick they had sensitively named 'Celebutard'.  This week it's a T shirt  on sale in Adelaide ... honestly, you could not make this stuff up! This media release from Down Syndrome Australia ends with a very apt quote from Ruth Faragher:

Down Syndrome Australia is calling on clothing companies Globalize and Art of Aztec to finally do the right thing and remove from sale their offensive tee-shirts.

Globalize have defended their tee-shirts and tops emblazoned with the word “Retarde” despite calls for their removal from stores.

“Apparently if you demean people with disability in French, then it doesn't count,” said Down Syndrome Australia CEO Catherine McAlpine.

“Here are some other French words for consideration; 'intimider' and 'petite brute'. A quick translation will tell you they mean the same thing - bully.”

Ms McAlpine says the word is commonly used in Australia to demean and devalue people with an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment, including people with Down syndrome. She said people with Down syndrome and their families find the term offensive and hurtful.

“It is cowardice to suggest that 'Retarde' has no meaning beyond the literal translation. It is covert bullying of the worst kind to pretend that this is just another fashion statement. People with intellectual disability, including people with Down syndrome, deserve much better,” she said.

“We have consigned many derogatory terms to the rubbish bin of history – but for some reason we have been slow to do so with this word,” she said. “Time to start now.”

As Ruth Faragher, a rather chic young lady with Down syndrome says; “No friends of mine would even think of buying this rubbish. I think the t-shirts are bloody awful, if you'll excuse my French …”

This report of the retailers' and designers' response to a protest in Adelaide today indicates that we have some way to go:

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