Amazon pulls sexually explicit childrenswear from its Canadian site following complaint

Amazon has pulled several children’s clothing items displaying the sexually explicit message "I love c--k" from its Canadian e-commerce website, following a CBC News investigation.

Clothing was modelled by children and displayed the message 'I love c--k'

Amazon removes listings for sexually explicit children's clothes from Canadian site

1 year ago
Duration 2:04
Amazon is facing criticism for selling children’s clothes on its site with a sexually explicit message. The products are banned under Amazon’s “offensive products” policies, but the company only removed them after a CBC News investigation.

Amazon has pulled from its e-commerce website several children's clothing items displaying a sexually explicit message, following a CBC News investigation.

The items, sold by third-party sellers, included a dress, T-shirt, summer hat and hoodies boldly displaying the message "I love c--k," using a heart emoji. Sometimes an image of a rooster replaced the word, "c--k," which is another word for rooster and slang for penis. 

Ads for the products showed children modelling the clothing.

"This is disgusting," said Karolina Zikova of Chilliwack, B.C., who alerted Amazon, CBC News and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to the problem last week after discovering one of the items when shopping on

"It can be connected with pedophilia," she said.

Following a CBC inquiry, the Seattle-based e-commerce company removed the items.

This children's hoodie was posted for sale on Amazon's Canadian site but was pulled by the company following a CBC News inquiry. (

"The larger question is how does this type of material even hit their services?" said Signy Arnason, associate executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

"It's normalizing the sexual commodification of children."

'Who is buying these things?'

Zikova first discovered the items this past Wednesday when searching on Amazon for a bathing suit for her eight-year-old niece. That's when she came across an ad for a "girl's sporty swimsuit," which showed a young girl wearing a white bathing suit with the message "I love c--k" displayed repeatedly.

"I was quite shocked because it's a girl that's maybe seven, eight years old in the picture," she said. "How is it possible that somebody is selling it, and who is buying these things?"

Zikova complained to Amazon, which removed the bathing suit from the site.

Until Amazon pulled this item, it was marketed for teen boys and girls. (

Concerned that Amazon may still be selling similar items, Zikova further searched the site that same day. This time, she was dismayed to find an ad for a children's hoodie displaying the same explicit message, modelled by a young boy.

Zikova contacted Amazon using its online chat option, but this time she was unsuccessful in getting the item removed.

According to the online chat transcript, the employee she conversed with did not appear to understand the scope of Zikova's complaint. After Zikova protested, the employee said someone from a different department would contact her.

She said she hadn't heard from Amazon by the following day, so she contacted CBC News.

"I hoped that … it will go public, so they will actually have to do something about it."

By that time, Zikova had uncovered several other children's items bearing the same "I love c--k" message. They included a "Christmas dress for girls" modelled by a young girl and marketed as "funny."

"How is this funny?" she said.

This item, which Amazon removed from its site, marketed a girl's 'I love c--k' dress as 'funny.' (

Amazon responds

In response to a CBC News inquiry which included links to the childrenswear, Amazon said on Sunday that the items violate its offensive products policies and have been removed. 

"All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account," a spokesperson wrote in an email. 

Karolina Zikova of Chilliwack, B.C., complained to online retailer Amazon last week about sexually explicit children's clothing items being sold on its website. (CBC)

Amazon said the employee Zikova conversed with who didn't address her concerns failed to follow proper procedure and that the company is now providing additional training to customer service staff. 

Amazon also said it had conducted a thorough investigation to ensure no similar products remained on its site.

However, the following day, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection informed CBC News that a similar item was still available on Amazon's Canadian site: a T-shirt for both adults and kids that referred to a sexual act involving "daddy" and "c--k."

The organization said it notified Amazon about the T-shirt on Monday morning.

CBC News contacted the third-party seller, Khang Cò, which removed the T-shirt late Monday night.

"It's our mistake when picking the product," a company spokesperson wrote in an online message. "Thanks for letting me know."

Amazon said on Tuesday it's now reviewing its product catalogue for any similar listings it may have previously missed. 

Other incidents

Both Arnason, with the child protection centre, and Zikova said they want Amazon to adopt tighter controls to prevent similar items from appearing on its site.

"You would not find a retailer that would be able to put [these items] in their window," Arnason said. "They would be shut down, police would be involved."

Amazon said that its technology, as well as dedicated staff, constantly scan all products listed for sale to search and immediately remove ones that violate its policies. 

But CBC News has covered several cases where Amazon removed inappropriate items sold by third-party sellers, including Nazi paraphernalia, only after the products sparked complaints.

Last year, the online retailer deleted the N-word from a product description of a black-coloured action figure and admitted to CBC that its safeguards failed to screen out the racist term.

Given the size of Amazon's marketplace, it would be difficult for the company to vet every single product, according to retail analyst Alex Arifuzzaman.

The company offers hundreds of millions of items, many from third-party sellers. 

"It's never going to be perfect," said Arifuzzaman, with Toronto based InterStratics Consultants. "There's always going to be, kind of, things seeping through the edges there."

Still, he said, Amazon needs to search for ways to improve its vetting process.

"There has to be some kind of an innovative solution," Arifuzzaman said, such as making third-party sellers sign an agreement guaranteeing the products they sell aren't offensive.

"And if it is, then there is some kind of a penalty in place," he said.


Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Based in Toronto, Sophia Harris covers consumer and business for CBC News web, radio and TV. She previously worked as a CBC videojournalist in the Maritimes where she won an Atlantic Journalism Award for her work. Contact:

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