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Row over New Zealand student magazine's 'period issue'

Female sanitary products Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Otago University seized more than 500 copies of the magazine's menstruation edition

Graphic content warning: This story contains an image which some might find shocking

A New Zealand university has confiscated a student magazine over its "offensive" menstruation theme - and people are seeing red.

Staff from Otago University seized more than 500 copies of Critic Te Arohi, over fears that its cover was "objectionable to many people".

The cover featured a cartoon of a supine figure with legs spread, bleeding from the genitals.

Editor Joel MacManus said he was initially unaware of the issue's fate, and spent Tuesday seeking CCTV footage.

The copies had in fact been dumped in a bin by Campus Watch - a team charged with maintaining "a safe and secure Campus environment" - overnight on Monday.

The move caused consternation on social media, with one student tweeting: "Menstruation is not shameful. Suppression of student voices is."

"We consider this censorship, something that goes against everything a university should stand for," Mr MacManus said.

He said the decision was especially baffling as Otago University's vice chancellor Harlene Hayne had emailed him saying, "I did want to let you know that this week's issue of the Critic is particularly good."

Image copyright Critic Te Arohi/Saskia Rushton-Green
Image caption The university later said removing the menstruation edition of the magazine was a "mistake"

The university said the proctor's office had decided to remove all the magazines, after the public library and hospital in Dunasked for them to be taken out of their foyers.

It said the "assumption" was made "as the university is also a public place, where non-students regularly pass through".

Saskia Rushton-Green, the illustrator who designed the cover, said she never intended the piece to be "degrading to women/anyone who bleeds from their vagina", adding, "I hope some people find it empowering."

Mr MacManus said the special issue had been produced at the suggestion of the Otago Womens+ Club, and "touched on a number of very important issues about period poverty and trans issues, as well as breaking taboos about a bodily function that half the population experience".

The editor-in-chief of New Zealand news outlet Stuff, himself a former editor of Critic, condemned the university for "acting as secret censors".

In a second statement, Otago said "actions that were taken here are regrettable", and called removing the magazines a "mistake".

Critic later tweeted that it had received an "unreserved apology" from the varsity's proctor.

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