PLEASE NOTE: All Mumsnetters and Mumsnet Bloggers are welcome to post in this Talk topic but this isn't the place for promoting blogs that aren't in the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. If you do that here, we may well delete your posts. If you'd like to join the Mumsnet Bloggers Network please do apply: we'd love to look at your blog!
Abuse of Equality and Human Rights Legislation in single sex multi cubicle changing rooms & toilets(15 Posts)
A friend who works in our local Asda is horrified that Parents are sending little girls - as young as 4-5yrs to the in store toilets by themselves-where male Asda Aces regularly check female toilets because there aren't any female cleaners! This is serious and people need to know about it-and why aren't women getting cleaning jobs in female toilets anymore? It is discrimination against service users if they can no longer use a single sex toilet because it is being serviced by opposite sex staff without using robust policies to protect the public and their staff from allegations.
This is from the WHO
About 2.6 billion people half the developing world lack even a simple improved latrine and 1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. As a direct consequence:
1.6 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera) attributable to lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and 90% of these are children under 5, mostly in developing countries;
160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis causing tens of thousands of deaths yearly; 500 million people are at risk of trachoma from which 146 million are threatened by blindness and 6 million are visually impaired;
intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) are plaguing the developing world due to inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene with 133 million suffering from high intensity intestinal helminths infections; there are around 1.5 million cases of clinical hepatitis A every year.
If you want to get on your high horse about something maybe you should consider this
Public Reaction to Cleaning of Public Toilet & Washing Facilities by Opposite sex Operatives
Bedfordshire Race & Equalities Council Survey Report (2012)
Conclusions & Recommendations
Public toilet/washing facilities are still used on a regular basis by large
numbers of people, with motorway service stations and town centres being
the most common location where people use these facilities.
More men (58%) than women responded to the survey. It is not entirely clear
from the data whether men are more or less concerned than women about
opposite sex operatives in attendance given that mens facilities usually
provide less private, lockable cubicles than facilities for women.
The use of opposite sex operatives to attend and clean public facilities is
widespread with a high awareness (88%) of this practice amongst the general
The majority of people (78%) are happy to use facilities where opposite sex
operatives are in attendance, and 70% stated that they were not bothered at
all by this situation. However it is of concern that a small number of people
(7%) had left without using the facilities where there was an operative of the
opposite sex in attendance and 26% of respondents indicated that they felt
embarrassed and uncomfortable about the presence of an opposite sex
operative. The British Toilet Association could be asked to circulate its
members asking them to advise customers on the location of the nearest
alternative facilities when cleaning was in progress.
In over 70% of cases, facilities claim to display a sign alerting service users to
the presence of an operative of the opposite sex. However it is of concern that
this information is not being displayed at all times when facilities are being
attended by opposite sex operatives. Best practice within the industry
recommends posting information stating that an operative of the opposite sex
is in attendance this is obviously not always happening and the British Toilet
Association could be asked to encourage its members to comply with this
Training for all operatives on the policies for entering and
cleaning/replenishing opposite sex facilities should be paramount for all
service providers. Clear procedures for entering a facility and giving notice of
cleaning by an opposite sex operative must be obvious to both the service
user and the employee/contractor. Dignity and respect must be observed and
understood in order to remove the potential for complaints. Service providers
could be offered awareness sessions and training on recognizing potential
threats to dignity and safeguarding for both the service user and the operative
to ensure a safe and usable environment for all members of the public,
regardless of their ethnicity, culture, age, sex, faith, sexual orientation or
For full report details Email: Bedfordrec@btconnect.com
Or results can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Profit-before-Privacy/580951998599343
This is legalistic nit picking when speaking of subjective experiences. The sex of the person we are seen or touched intimately by normally matters very much. Privacy norms are deeply held and fundamental to our sense of self/person hood. It is well documented that situations involving potential/actual cross sex observation of the naked body/parts/body functions, whether casual/incidental or intended, may cause severe dignitary harm and distress and this may be an unconscious and deeply ingrained response in many people.
Its effects should not be underestimated while arguments rage as to whether it is part of a socialization process or innate. Whilst It is right therefore that exceptions to the principle of equal treatment of men and women should only apply in limited circumstances, It is highly contentious to assume the need for same sex privacy is no longer necessary for anyone using what is advertised as a single sex toilet.
Where attempts to change gender norms give rise to recognizable costs eg fear of sexual assault and harassment, as perceived subjectively by the person experiencing it, there should be alternatives that employers can adopt to reassign job duties to avoid the privacy/equality conflict. In the absence of structural alterations to protect privacy ie fully enclosed unisex cubicles, same sex privacy norms are largely effective in defending individuals from the risks of permanent emotional or psychological impairment associated with personal contact and surveillance in intimate circumstances. Consenting to the surveillance or touching is essential to prevent it being experienced as assault/harassment. There are clearly many people who cannot comfortably use a toilet when they need to due to implementation of poor operational policies across the board. This is a diabolical infringement of basic human rights with potential to cause permanent mind body alienation and breakdown and is therefore a safeguarding issue.
Harassment is repeated behaviour that is intended to disturb or upset - whatever this may be it is not harassment. I'm also afraid that I would dispute your interpretation of the reported survey results of 34% of people feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable in using the facilities being the same as 34$ of people using the facilities under duress - it is not the same thing.
In any event, survey results aside, I still do not agree with your primary argument that the use of opposite gender cleaning staff is posing risks to children and vulnerable people. What risks? And why are they posed only if gender opposite cleaners are used?
I understand that further analysis of the survey results is taking place as more men than women responded (58%). Further breakdown of the characteristics of the people who said they were embarrassed / uncomfortable, left without using the facility and complained is being analysed to see if they indicate that there is an adverse impact on certain equality groups eg Muslims, the elderly.
Preliminary results apparently showed:
22% of respondents said they would not be happy to use a toilet facility
that uses opposite sex operatives to carry out cleaning etc
26% of respondents that they would be more inclined to use a public toilet facility if it was attended by a same sex operative
34% said they were embarrassed / uncomfortable but still used the facility
7% left without using the facility
only 2% complained to the provider
Clearly at least 34% people feel forced to use the facility under duress (harassment). No one should be put off using a single sex facility provided for them because there is an opposite sex worker present who should have the decency to leave and should not be entering while someone is already in there.
Making people uncomfortable when they need a toilet is directly linked to physiological, as well as psychological harm eg constipation, IBS, cystitis, , even premature labour I remember reading somewhere. Cubicles are often too small to swing a cat. People with diabetics and those who require certain pain relief injections (which involves exposing the appropriate body area) have to use the sink areas- I have also been aware of women with heavy periods having to clean up at the sink. Little girls and frail elderly ladies frequently do not/can not close the door, and neither do many people with learning disabilities. Many people don't want others to hear, particularly demeaning if it is a man for many women, young girls dealing with a period/buying sanitary ware etc - the list is endless.
Here are the details of the original launch of the consultation:
BEDFORDSHIRE RACE AND EQUALITIES COUNCIL E-BULLETIN
Dear Colleagues, Welcome to the Beds R&EC e-Bulletin Service.
We will be sending regular email updates on all things EQUALITIES as well items that we think maybe of interest to you.
You can now follow us on twitter
as Bedfordshire Equalities
12 December 2011
1. News from the Equality & Human Rights Commission
Can't see this email? Please view it online
Celebrating International Human Rights Day 2011
This weekend were celebrating international human rights day. 2011 has been a powerful year for human rights in Britain and across the world. With increased focus on the role and value of human rights here in Britain and the ever-strengthening calls for more human rights protections around the world, the last twelve months have been transformed by people asserting and using their rights.
We have seen the Human Rights Act bringing justice to many vulnerable people in Britain but there are still vulnerable people in Britain whose rights are not being respected and who are suffering violations of their most basic rights every day.
Our Home Care Inquiry showed that people receiving publically funded private care in their homes are subject to serious human rights violations. Similarly, people who have suffered harassment and violence are also not receiving the essential support that they need. This weekend the Commission celebrates human rights day by bringing attention to what we think needs to be done, take a look at our website to find out more.
Importantly, next week in parliament, peers will be debating an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill proposed by the Commission. This amendment would mean that those older or disabled people who receive care in their homes will be fully protected by the Human Rights Act. You can read our briefing on this amendment on our website.
2. Survey: Public Toilet & Washing Facilities provision of cleaning and replenishing of facilities provided by opposite sex attendants.
Beds R&EC in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council are conducting a survey to gather information on the experiences and opinions regarding the use of opposite sex attendants in publicly provided facilities. The survey will take no longer than a few minutes to complete. Please click on the link below to take part:
3. Donate by TEXT to support the vital services provided by Beds R&EC
You can now help protect our vital services by donating directly to the Beds Race & Equalities Council using your mobile phone.
Our vital advice and support services are under threat and we need to raise income to enable us to continue providing FREE advice, support and advocacy on welfare benefits, education, employment, discrimination, passports, basic immigration, domestic abuse, citizenship, equality & human rights as well as leadership training and the quality mark training for groups and individuals providing Advice Services in the community.
Please text your donation with the message BREC36 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 e.g. BREC36 £5
This service is provided by Vodaphone JustTextGiving
Thank you, Every penny counts.
Bedfordshire Race & Equalities Council
Challenge Inequalities Say NO to Discrimination text BREC36 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 to donate now. eg BREC36 £5
HELP US TO SAVE OUR VITAL SERVICES
I've tried and failed to find the primary source of the results from the survey that you mentioned - do you have a link to them? All I can find is quoted results which show that in fact only 7% of people stated that they left without using the facility when they discovered that it was cleaned by opposite gender operatives. That is far from the 1:3 people you say claimed to have been deterred or put off from using the facilities.
It has been happening in Europe for decades. Not an issue. In Holland the female cleaners just walk in regardless of whether there are men using the urinal. Get over it, and yourself!
I'm not sure why you are alleging that there is a safeguarding issue here as a result of cross gender cleaning systems. If there is a safeguarding issue, then it would be present whether or not it is a man or a woman cleaning. Same sex sexual abuse happens as well, you know, so either there is a safeguarding issue full stop or there isn't.
I also do not recognise your argument about "giving men access to women and children while they are undressed or using a toilet". Taking toilets separately from changing areas, I have never been in a toilet where women or children are undressed outside of the lockable cubicles. Cubicles to which a cleaner, whether they be male or female, would not have access to whilst they were in use. The washing facilities are for washing your hands - that is not a position where anyone is vulnerable or undressed.
Changing rooms could, perhaps, be seen to be slightly different but again most changing rooms nowadays are unisex with lockable cubicles. Any that are single sex I have never ever seen opposite gender cleaners in and I would welcome any evidence that this ever happens.
I'm afraid that I completely disagree with your assertion that the use of opposite gender cleaners is harassment and discrimination - in what possible way could the use of a male cleaner in a female toilet facility be construed as harassment or discrimination?
Its interesting that you latched on to one word 'paedos' and ignored the rest of the message. This is a scam which people should be aware of and needs to be stopped as it subversive to the entire equality legislation. Equality is not about giving men access to women and children while they are undressed or using a toilet. Nor is it about forcing any woman who wants a cleaning job to be faced with male genitalia. Ultimately, this is widespread harassment and discrimination against service users and staff-for profit by the organisation and it is a safeguarding issue.
And toilets are nothing to do with it.
In fact the majority of children are abused while travelling in the front of the car by their parent or carer.
Stranger attacks are not common, abuse is most common in families.
Its not just about 'paedos' but Perhaps you are lucky enough to have never been abused. It is about consent and having a choice- not being forced in to situations which may re activate an abusive experience. Clearly it is a problem for 1:3 according to the survey.
I notice your only posts are about paedophilia.
I respectfully suggest you get some help, you clearly need it.
Lots of toilets are now unisex, not just serviced by 'opposite sex cleaners'.
This is not a problem.
It's only a problem if you inhabit some idiot parallel universe where you see 'paedos' round every corner
Many people are not aware that the government is allowing corporate organisations (eg swimming pools, supermarkets, parks, hospitals) to use male and female cleaners interchangeably, in existing single sex facilities, in order to to reduce cleaning costs, despite compromising staff and obvious risks to children and vulnerable groups.
Children/young girls may find themselves alone in a single sex toilet or changing room enclosure with an opposite sex worker, (or imposter), who is not even required to be CRB checked because their job is not considered to involve working with children. So pedophiles and perverts may gain access to young children without parents realizing the risks.
A recent anonymous on line toilet survey (Bedfordshire Race & Equalities Council) demonstrates that 1:3 people are put off using a single sex designated multi-cubicle toilet/urinal if they are serviced by opposite sex personnel.
Permanent warning signs (and flimsy access policies eg calling, knocking, which are undignified, may not be heard, and may frighten children) are depriving users of the legal choice for same sex privacy and a chance to object to the unwanted presence of an opposite sex worker, but are being used to gain implied consent for male and female workers to be used interchangeably, while people, including under age children/young girls, are using the facility and boys may be exposed at a urinal/trough.
Toilets are no longer single sex because employers are failing to use same sex operatives when it is proportionate and legitimate to do so, nor implementing robust alternatives to a gender based policy (eg times that cleaning will take place) which would give users a choice to use a facility with same sex privacy when they need to until facilities are appropriately structurally converted to unisex to provide privacy.
Anyone with a history of sexual abuse may feel too compromised to use a toilet/washing facility provided for them in these circumstances.
This practice is only legal if you do not object, however, anyone who complains is falsely informed that this is a necessary requirement of the equality act and it is 'discrimination' against the worker to object. Actually, it is the employers who are putting their business needs before the privacy/decency of service users who are guilty of discrimination against you.
To skirt around the law, assumptions are being made (by employers) that this poor practice is acceptable because women are in a cubical, (even though the cubicle is in a single sex enclosed area where women may need privacy for washing in the sink area). It is also considered that any man using a urinal in the communal area in the Gents has no objections or will dash to a cubicle. Therefore the public are voluntarily giving up their privacy rights just by using the facility provided for them.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) insist that hardly anyone is complaining about this widespread abuse of anti discrimination legislation, therefore they cannot force employers to comply! So the public are being hoodwinked into putting up with this invasion of their privacy rights which exploits staff (forces women who want cleaning work to clean around men visibly urinating) and puts children at risk of physical/psychological harm.
This is taking place in a culture where 90% of sexual crimes are committed by men and boys against women and children; where women and girls are sexualized and violent pornography is increasingly accessible to children on the internet. This poor practice clearly raises questions about the fitness for purpose of the organisations safeguarding policy.
However, the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) advise that this will only stop if enough people complain- not just verbally, but also in writing and copied to them. You can also complain to your MP.
Join the discussion
Please login first.