I am writing to express my concern over reports that Councillor Ian Chandler has proposed to make all toilets in Monmouthshire ‘gender neutral’, – a term which means mixed sex, thereby removing women-only toilet provision.
I am devastated that the particular needs of women (51 per cent of the population) are so easily disregarded by Councillor Chandler.
Women are far more likely to need public toilets than men, for reasons based on their biology; including menstruation, menopause, incontinence, pregnancy and miscarriage.
Most men also do not want mixed-sex toilets to ensure their own privacy and because they understand the need of women to have safe, dignified places to complete their toilet.
A Sunday Times investigation made under the Freedom of Information Act found that just under 90 per cent of complaints regarding changing room sexual assaults, voyeurism and harassment are about incidents in mixed sex facilities.
We know that some men use mixed sex toilets to place spy camera equipment and to sexually assault women. Why is Councillor Chandler attempting to remove safe spaces for women?
Councillors should know that those in control of buildings have a common law duty of care to protect the users of their buildings and if any woman suffers assault in such toilets the management of the building may be subject to legal action if they have provided a hostile environment for women without considering the consequences.
Perhaps Councillor Chandler doesn’t know that under-provision of toilets for women and girls could be illegal under the Public Sector Equality Duty (Equality Act 2010)?
I am horrified that Councillor Chandler should suggest such an exclusionary act which would mean many women are forced to self-exclude from public life because they do not feel safe in using toilet facilities. This includes vulnerable women and women for whom religious beliefs require them to use single sex facilities.
Does Councillor Chandler not care about the safety, dignity and rights of the women of Monmouthshire?
- Concerned Chronicle reader