Recent research by The Sunday Times shows that unisex changing rooms are more dangerous for women and girls than single-sex facilities. This has brought into question the use of such changing rooms at Putney Leisure Centre where there have recently been two serious incidents.
Almost 90% of reported sexual assaults, harassment and voyeurism in swimming pool and sports-centre changing rooms happen in unisex facilities, which make up less than half the total.
According to The Times, gender-neutral changing is growing as councils seek to cut staff costs and cater to transgender people. But David Davies, MP for Monmouth, said it risked becoming a “magnet” for sex offenders and increased the danger to women and girls. However, trans campaigners have dismissed concerns about women’s safety in gender-neutral spaces, with one prominent trans activist, Paris Lees, telling The Times that “making bathrooms more trans-friendly hasn’t led to any problems”.
The research by the Times showed that there were 134 complaints of sexual misconduct in sports centre and swimming pool changing rooms last year, councils said in their FoI responses. Of these, 120 related to incidents that took place in unisex changing rooms and 14 to incidents in single-sex changing rooms. As well as voyeurism, offences recorded in unisex facilities included harassment, sexual assault and rape.
PutneySW15.com has asked Enable and Wandsworth Council if they have any plans to revert to single gender changing rooms at Putney Leisure Centre where there have been two cases of voyeurism in the past 12 months; local businessman Darren Johnson jailed for 16 months in August 2018 and teacher Anthony Gomes jailed in August 2017. We have also asked local MP Justine Greening for her comment.
What do you think?
Should unisex changing rooms be removed from Putney Leisure Centre?