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Reebok's ties with rapper slammed over song said to boast of date rape

By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A women's rights organization will protest outside Reebok's Manhattan store on Thursday, demanding the athletic goods retailer cut ties with rapper Rick Ross over a song whose lyrics it says boasts about drugging and raping a woman.

The Miami-based rapper released the song "U.O.E.N.O." in January featuring lyrics that seem to reference drugging and having sex with a woman who is unaware of what is happening.

Since then some radio stations have dropped the record from their playlists, a parents' watchdog has protested and women's rights advocates have posted video on YouTube objecting to the song.

"In remaining silent, Reebok is using its brand to promote rape," said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, which claims membership of some 400,000 people fighting to combat sexism and expand women's rights.

The group plans to protest outside Reebok's 5th Avenue store in Manhattan on Thursday and to deliver petitions bearing more than 71,000 signatures demanding the company drop Ross.

Ross has an endorsement deal with the company and promotes its shoes in print and TV commercials.

The song contains the lines "Put molly (slang for the drug MDMA) all in her champagne, she ain't even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it."

Ross has denied the lyric in question condones rape, saying the lyrics have been misinterpreted.

"I would never use the term rape ... in my lyrics," Ross said in an interview last week with New Orleans radio station Q93.3 FM. "Hip hop don't condone that, the streets don't condone that, nobody condones that."

Ross "is pushing the idea that if you don't use the word 'rape' it doesn't count," Chaudhary said in response. "We are fed up and disgusted with Reebok, and Thursday we will bring this fight to their front steps," she added

The Parents Television Council this week called on U.S. radio stations to stop playing the song and asked the Federal Communications Commission to review whether broadcasters were violating their public interest obligation "by airing music that promotes date rape and drug use."

Reebok, a subsidiary of Germany company Adidas, said it "has no comment at this time."

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Todd Eastham)

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