"Outdated Beliefs" – M'sian Dads Are Upset Men's Toilets Don't Have Diaper Changing Tables
Some Malaysian fathers have recently taken to social media to question why public restrooms do not provide baby diaper changing facilities for men
Last Friday, 15 April, father-of-two Arif Chapiti took to Facebook to share his frustrating experience when he had to change his son's diapers at a local primary care clinic in Kuala Lumpur.
"A few days ago, I went to my son's usual check-up at a local primary care clinic, and to be exact, [it was] more of a maternal and child healthcare type of clinic," the 30-year-old said.
Compared to his wife who works normal office hours, he shared that he has the privilege of working shifts, so he has been bringing his two sons for their medical check-ups for the past two years.
While waiting for their turn to see the doctor that day, Arif said his youngest son, who just turned one this year, suddenly pooped and needed his diaper changed
"So, while handling both of my sons at the same time, I went for an adventure to find a decent place to change his diaper," the father said.
Unfortunately, he could not find any diaper changing stations in the clinic and the only medical assistant around did not offer him any help when he asked if there were any he could use.
"Where's the mother?" the assistant replied when Arif asked for a place to change his son's diapers.
Although dissatisfied with her answer, he asked again politely and received the same response.
Unable to stand her answers any longer, Arif asked more firmly: "Why do we need the mother? [Their] mother is not around. I am bringing my child to this clinic for his usual check-up. And I need to change him. For the third time, is there any place for me to change his diapers?”
However, the assistant's reply was, "Oh, the place to change diapers over here is only available in the women's toilet, no such thing in the men's toilet. If you want, you can go to the men's toilet."
Surrendering to the situation, Arif said he had to wash his son and change his son's diapers in midair because there was no clean table available in the bathroom
"The sink [looked] almost collapsed, so I couldn't put him in it, and it was dirty," said the father.
He also ended the post expressing his disappointment that Malaysia still believes the outdated gender role that only women and mothers change their children's diapers.
According to him, this is proven by the fact that very few malls and public places in the country prepare such amenities that cater to both parents; the facilities are usually only available for women.
Coincidentally, a day earlier, another Malaysian father also voiced his disappointment when he couldn't change his baby's diaper in the men's toilet in a shopping mall
Twitter user Mustakim Ismail said he had no choice but to enter the women's restroom to use the diaper changing table there.
"Next time, don't think it's only the women's job to change their child's diapers. This is a shared responsibility," he tweeted on Thursday, 14 April.
"To designers and architects, please be alert when designing other public spaces like this. There are many malls that have [diaper] changing rooms only in women's toilets."
The 31-year-old father-of-one also told SAYS that he hopes Malaysia can stop the outdated stereotype that "only mothers need to change diapers" and would like to highlight that baby facilities should be accessible to both parents.
Both fathers received much support on the issue, with other parents sharing their own experiences and challenges they have faced without the facilities in public areas
Netizens also agreed that diaper changing stations should be available in both men's and women's restrooms.
"I feel you. I had to change my kid's diapers in the toilet too previously. It's mostly the older malls without a specific baby room. A lot of the malls also have a sign stating "only mothers and baby". What if the father has to change the diaper or feed the baby too?" asked a Twitter user.
"Same, Arif. Men's toilets usually do not have these facilities. I have always come across this. Do people think it's only the women's job to wash their children's poop?" asked a Facebook user.
"We can buy the rice, and we can also change our children's pampers, okay."
Another netizen said, "I absolutely agree. My husband is very involved in managing our children. He is always the one changing the diapers. But if we go to the mall, it gets difficult. [All the facilities] are in the women's toilet."
"Occasionally, the diaper changing station is in the same place as the breastfeeding area and men are not allowed in. I wonder how do single fathers in Malaysia face these challenges."
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