Lack of nappy-changing spot for dads at mall

2016-11-08 10:24
Bisley father believes he was a victim of discrimination  after he was told that it was mostly women who changed nappies.

Bisley father believes he was a victim of discrimination after he was told that it was mostly women who changed nappies. (File)

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A Bisley father believes he was a victim of discrimination this weekend when he was told “mostly” women changed babies’ nappies.

This was the response from Cascades Lifestyle Centre in a private message on Facebook to Ed Scott — a father of a two-month-old baby — when he asked for a nappy changing station for both mothers and fathers.

Spokesperson for the centre Viv Quann told The Witness she did not believe the response was sexist or discriminatory, but rather “we believed we were talking to a man who could shed light on the situation”.

Scott said he found the only baby changing facility was in the female toilet.

When he queried why there were no family changing rooms or rooms where men were allowed to change their babies’ nappies, he was told via the Cascades Lifestyle Facebook page that mostly women changed nappies.

“It’s a natural assumption I would think?” read part of the response on the Cascades Lifestyle Facebook page.

Scott said although he visited the centre on Sunday with his wife and baby, had he been alone with his child, he would not have had a place to change his baby.

He said he raised “a valid question” via the Cascades Lifestyle Centre Facebook page, but described the response as “rude and abrupt”.

The response sent as a private message read: “Hi Ed, do you know of any other men’s toilets with baby change rooms? Just a question because I don’t, but maybe there are? It’s probably because it’s mostly women who change babies? It’s a natural assumption I would think.”

Scott said he found the response “sexist and discriminatory”.

“What about the single dads? We cannot get into the ladies’ bathroom so where would a man change his baby’s diaper?” he asked.

Quann told The Witness that Scott had asked a “what if” question and the response was treated exactly as Scott presented it, “questioningly and with interest”.

“[The number of] men who change baby nappies at a shopping centre in South Africa is still fairly minor in comparison to the millions of women that do and have done for decades,” Quann said.

“Our reply was not that only woman change nappies, it was that mostly women change nappies in shopping centres. This may not apply to what happens at home and one also needs to take our country demographic into consideration here,” she said, adding that in the current climate, women are often caregivers “especially at shopping centres”.

Quann said it was exciting to see how passionate the community was about creating gender neutral areas. “Cascades Centre as well as the country are slowly moving in this direction in the future. This situation will be taken up at the next Cascades management meeting,” Quann said.

She said the developer would be able to tell them whether a change room in the men’s bathroom or a new family room would work.

Scott said after posting the initial query on Cascades Lifestyle Centre’s Facebook page, his post was deleted and he was blocked from posting anything else on the page.

“I then sent them a private message and posted it on my own page and tagged Cascades. I also sent an e-mail to them on Sunday but I did not receive a response yet,” Scott said.

But Quann said their policy dictated that “if someone changes their tone to argumentative, debate, defamatory, or the likes, we will remove it.”

She said the fact remained that more women changed nappies than men.

“It’s not discrimination. We hope that this will change in the future and salute all fathers who are making the effort to take part in changing babies in public spaces,” Quann said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  shopping centre

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