Guernsey pulls #Dropyourpants hashtag from cervical screening campaign

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image captionThe slogan appeared as part of an island campaign to improve cervical screening rates

A social media slogan for a cervical screening campaign has been withdrawn after sparking an online backlash.

Social media posts by the States of Guernsey featured the hashtag #DropYourPants, while encouraging eligible people to attend appointments.

One Twitter user described the slogan as "crass and insensitive", with another calling it "pervy at worst".

The States said it had removed the phrase after it "realised it may cause offence to some of our followers".

The hashtag appeared in two separate posts published by the States on its Twitter and Facebook pages on Monday.

It has been removed from the Facebook post, but the tweet has not been deleted.

One user said the hashtag was "not a phrase to be associated with an intimate, invasive medical procedure". Others described it as "totally insulting" and "flippant at best, pervy at worst".

Members of the public also criticised wording which invited "anyone with a cervix" to attend their appointment.

The posts form part of a three-week long campaign to improve cervical screening rates in the island.

As of March, estimated screening in the Bailiwick stood at 60% for those aged 25-49, and 63.5% for those aged 50-65, according to the States of Guernsey.

It said it aimed to achieve 80% screening for both groups.

'Fear and embarrassment'

Responding to the online reaction, a government spokesperson said it wanted to ensure anyone eligible for free screening was aware.

"As stated in the original media release, this includes women, trans men, non-binary and intersex people, aged between 25 and 65, and the States has sought to clarify this on Twitter too."

They added: "With regard to the 'Drop Your Pants', this was a slogan devised jointly with third sector and primary care partners who have come up with a creative pant-decorating campaign to further the awareness of the screening programme.

"We referenced it to support this project, but appreciate that some people have taken offence and we have removed it from our own social posts."

Samantha Dixon, chief executive of the national charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said it was important the message about screening reached as many people as possible.

She said there were "lots of factors that can make cervical screening difficult - this includes fear, embarrassment, time or experience of trauma".

"The majority of those eligible for cervical screening identify as a woman, however trans men or non-binary people can have a cervix too and so it is important that no one feels excluded or does not think screening is for them," she added.

"By using 'women and people with a cervix' we can ensure potentially life-saving messages reach everyone who needs them."

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