Instagram account promoting the sale of Knives, disguised as lipstick and combs for young women  

A woman poses with a 'hidden comb blade' sold by Alien Outfitters, among many knives disguised as ordinary items.

London, Jan 22: The knives – some disguised as lipsticks or combs and highly decorous – are being promoted through the photo-sharing website Instagram and the social media site is under fire for allowing an account to promote this.

Sale of knives is banned in the UK without a proper ID, and according to media reports, a US-based business specializing in selling knives to women that are then imported to the UK.

The account named ‘Alien Outfitters’ sells and promote knives specifically toward women. Pictures in the account are shown in a manner where women can easily hide the sharp object. The online store is based out of North Carolina, United States.

Under UK’s knife crime laws, importing of such knives in the UK is illegal. The account provides shipping methods for delivery in the UK.

Alien Outfitters uses photographs of young women to sell the knives. A flick-knife, described as their “rainbow blade”, is modeled by a woman, and captioned with the hashtags #girlpower and #likeagirl.

Though some of the knives are not so disguised, they are embellished with studs in chromatic colors. The store’s website states these knives as “decorative and ornamental products”.

While eye-catching, these knives are cheap too – costing around £9 for comb knife and £12 for lipstick knife.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust said, “Instagram’s action in hosting this site is reprehensible. They are glamorizing these knives as fashion accessories. This is a forum where young people openly encourage each other to break the law by buying flick knives and concealed knives which are illegal for any age group”.

According to the report on The Independent, Greene explained, “From the colors, designs, and model names such as mermaid and fanciful rainbow, they are clearly aimed directly at young women. They look like toys. They are not toys”.

He added, “They are weapons that bring devastation to hundreds of families each year. The vendor goes to great lengths in the small print to distance themselves from any liability, clearly indicating that they understand the dangers that these knives pose”.

An Instagram spokesperson is quoted as saying, “Illegal activity is not allowed on Instagram. Our guidelines clearly state that people must always follow the law when offering to sell or buy goods”.

He further noted, “People can report content they think is against our community guidelines using our in-app tools. Our global teams of reviewers check these reports 24 hours a day and move quickly to remove any violating content or accounts”.

Promotion of violent and disturbing images is banned on Instagram.

After the news comes out, Instagram removed the posts shared by ‘Alien Outfitters’.

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