There need to be some places men can’t go when it comes to public parenting spaces. Sorry, but there does.
Last week a Peeping Tom was caught in the parents’ room at Westfield Chatswood in Sydney, lifting up curtains to spy on breastfeeding mothers. One mum who spotted the man screamed and alerted security. Apparently, they did nothing. Despite admitting to having images of the man, the police were not contacted.
These posts appeared on the Westfield Chatswood Facebook page shortly after:
One of these women, who made the original complaint on Facebook, later started a petition at Change.org, urging Westfield to make these spaces safer for mothers and children. So far she has received over 200 signatures.
Westfield Chatswood responded with the following statement:
Our policy is to always notify police of incidents, which took place. However, the guard did make an error in communicating our process to the customer, which was immediately corrected by his supervisor, and we are continuing to work with the police. Our management team is working on ensuring our policy is correctly followed and communicated to customers in the future.
More needs to be done to prevent this happening in the first place. Parent rooms are meant to be quiet, safe and useful places for families to tend to their children. All are monitored. Why was this guy not picked up immediately?
I have mixed feelings about shopping centre parent rooms. I lived in Bondi in Sydney when I had my first baby and when I came across these spaces, I thought they were very trendy and progressive. This was 10 years ago. Now they are everywhere. Shopping centres have been forced to transform them from rooms for mums to parents' rooms to cater for a growing number of dads who are caring for their babies.
I liked the fact my husband could come in with us and help me with the baby, but even he was a bit uncomfortable when other dads were in the room and I was preparing to breastfeed. He'd go to great lengths to make sure the curtain to my breastfeeding cubicle was closed and he'd stand guard. This became more difficult when we had our second child. I tended to breastfeed on the lounge in the parents' room so I could watch as my then four-year-old. There was no way he was going to be confined to a breastfeeding cubicle for 40 minutes.