Tell ZOO to apologize for exploiting asylum seekers
  • Petitioned Matthew Stanton

This petition was delivered to:

CEO, ACP Magazines
Matthew Stanton
Editor, ZOO Weekly
Tim Keen

Tell ZOO to apologize for exploiting asylum seekers

    1. Matt Darvas
    2. Petition by

      Matt Darvas

      Newcastle, Australia

July 2012


Wow, that was fast. Zoo Weekly’s "hottest asylum seeker" competition didn't even make it through the weekend. Less than 24 hours after Matt Darvas started his petition on, the editor Tim Keen called him personally -- and promised to print a full apology in the next issue. More than 6,000 others joined him, and his campaign ignited a furore across the media and the general public. Media outlets from The Sydney Morning Herald to Yahoo! covered the campaign -- it even gained international attention in The Guardian (UK).

ZOO Weekly has gone too far, this time exploiting the vulnerability of female asylum seekers through a deplorable new competition searching for "Australia’s hottest asylum seeker”.

The competition reads: "if you’ve swapped persecution for s-xiness, we want to shoot you (with a camera — relax!)".

I live amongst and count as close friends a number of female refugees from several war-torn nations in East Africa. Their stories of fleeing their countries include horrible accounts of sexual assault and even rape at the hands of militia and the military.

Many of them lost husbands, children and other family members. They still suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including frequent nightmares, flashbacks, depression and other associated health problems.

To trivialise and exploit these incredibly traumatic experiences is utterly appalling. That’s why I’m calling on ACP Magazines to demand ZOO issue an apology and immediately scrap this disgusting competition.

This isn’t the first strike for ZOO. The magazine recently offered to accommodate the next boatload of asylum seekers in its office if prominent MP Sarah Hanson-Young posed for them. When she did not, they pasted her head onto near-naked woman’s body.

ZOO Weekly is trivialising sexual harassment and normalising the exploitation of women, making this behaviour acceptable to the target market of young guys.

It's time to put an end to ZOO thinking they can get away with this. Your pressure on ACP could help them to finally axe this appalling competition.




Tweet:  Sign the petition! "ACP Magazines: Tell ZOO to apologize for exploiting asylum seekers" #zooapology


The target's social media:

ZOO Twitter: @zooman_oz

ZOO Facebook:



ACP Magazines other titles:

- The Australian Women’s Weekly (Australia’s number one weekly magazine)

- Woman’s Day


- TV Week


- Cosmopolitan

- Australian House & Garden

 - Top Gear Australia and Wheels.


Nine Entertainment (ACP Magazine’s parent company) Co Brands:

Channel 9

Nine msn



Sky news

Allphones Arena

Recent signatures


    1. ZOO confirms details of apology and retraction

      Matt Darvas
      Petition Organizer

      Tim Keen from ZOO Weekly has been in touch to inform me that they have published an apology on their website (I've posted below so you don't have to go to their website). The printed apology will appear in the issue on-sale July 30, which is the first possible issue not yet printed.

      ZOO Weekly regrets any offence caused to any of our readers, and to any asylum seeker or refugee and their families and supporters, by the article “Sexiest Boat People” on pages 32 and 33 of the July 16th 2012 issue of ZOO Weekly, which included the competition “Are you Australia’s Hottest Asylum Seeker?”. We apologise for being insensitive towards asylum seekers and refugees, and the traumatic experiences they have experienced. Our apologies are extended to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young."

    2. Reached 6,000 signatures
    3. ZOO Editor Tim Keen Just Called Me!

      Matt Darvas
      Petition Organizer

      ZOO has heard us loud and clear! I just got off the phone to Tim Keen, Editor at ZOO Weekly, who is in charge of the publication and its content. Tim told me he had been “inundated” with emails and contact about our petition.

      I informed Tim how concerned we were at the way his publication had dehumanized and sexualized asylum seekers, some of the most vulnerable people in our world. He apologized, informing me, “that was not our intention.” But to be honest, it was hard to know what their intention was, if not that? I thanked him for contacting me and for his apology, but said it wasn’t enough.

      What’s Next?
      I asked Tim to print an official retraction in the next issue of ZOO Weekly. He has agreed to do so, but until we know the details of this we must continue to apply pressure. I have asked Tim to ensure the retraction is large, clear and in a prominent place in the magazine. Until, we will continue to keep up the pressure.

    4. Reached 1,000 signatures
    5. Over 300 signatures already. Let's make ZOO Weekly apologize now!

      Matt Darvas
      Petition Organizer

      Thankyou for being amongst the first people to take a stand and demand ZOO end this horrible competition. If you have ever sat with and listened to the stories of asylum seekers and refugees like I have, you will know of the unimaginable things they have experienced. Tales of violence, abuse, murder and rape.

      We cannot let ZOO Weekly get away with this!

      Now we have developed a base of supporters will you continue to promote this petition so we can reach our goal?

      Please take a moment to share this campaign as widely as you can via email, twitter and facebook. The link includes more information on promoting the petition.

      This can only happen if we work together.


    6. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Tim Rushbrook BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      This competition is sickening and disgusting. It degrades women. Shame on the men who buy the Zoo magazine. Even more shame on any business that advertises or partners with Zoo magazine.

      • over 2 years ago

      This is simply exploitative and just so wrong As a teacher I work in a school which has many female students who came to Australia as refugees. I know only too well the trauma and persecution they are escaping and the behaviour Zoo is demonstrating is unconscionable.

    • veronica goerke DIANELLA, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      It's just too revolting to even contemplate how a editor could have approved of such rubbish

    • Eleanor Sutherland MUNDULLA, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      This is just wrong!

      Signing this petition is my objection to such shameless exploitation and a public statement to boycott all ACP magazine titles. Shame on you ACP!!!

      • over 2 years ago

      Zoo mag has plummeted to a new low.


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