On 15th April 2022, Malaysian netizen Arif Chapiti took to Facebook to share a problem that he had recently encountered while bringing his infant son for a routine medical check-up. Explaining that he has done so over the past 2 years due to the convenience that was afforded to him from the nature of his job with shift hours, he describes his son’s primary care clinic as being the kind to cater more towards maternal and child healthcare services.
Fathers express dismay at lack of diaper changing tables accessible for men
As he was waiting to be called into the doctor’s office, his second son who is only a year old, required a diaper change after soiling himself. And as a dutiful father would do, Arif took both his children to look for a suitable place to change his son’s soiled diaper. Thinking that the resident nurse would know best, he decided to approach and ask her where the diaper changing table was located in the clinic.
“She replied by not answering my main question; ‘where’s the mother eh??'”
Surprised by her query, Arif tried asking her a second time for directions to the diaper changing table. And yet, the nurse responded in the same way by asking where the child’s mother was.
Exasperated, he told the nurse that as his wife was not around, he happens to be the only parent who could change his son’s diaper. To which the nurse finally informed him that the only diaper changing table in the clinic was located in the women’s restroom, and that if he wanted to change his son’s diaper, he would have to do so in the sink of the men’s washroom.
Left with no other choice, Arif said that he had to change his son’s diaper by holding him over a sink that was on the verge of collapsing. Dismayed by the fact that diaper changing is still often regarded as being a ‘woman’s duty’, Arif points out the outdated nature of such gender stereotypes that continue to prevail in the country despite the fact that fathers are now increasingly more involved in the raising of children.
In speaking with Wau Post, Arif said that taking care of children should be considered a shared responsibility among both parents, as opposed to being considered exclusively a role delegated only to women.
“To me important to correct the mindset first then only the infrastructure will follow.” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by another father, Mr Mustakim Ismail, who also shared a similar experience he had when finding diaper changing tables installed only in women’s restrooms. In a Tweet shared to his profile, he reminds designers and architects to take into account that the responsibility of changing a child’s diapers belongs to both parents.
In that same vein, Ismail points out that both parents should be responsible for taking care of their children, as opposed to the common assumption that it should only be solely up to the mother.
“From another perspective, its actually the architects job to design space flow and layout to be accessible to both genders,” he adds.
Sorry terpaksa redah je. Lain kali jgn ingt tugas wanita je tukar pampers anak. Benda ni tanggungjawab bersama. Kepada designer/architect, please alert bila design space2 mcm ni. Dah byk mall aku jumpa, changing room dlm toilet wanita. pic.twitter.com/zT3gmxji1E
— 🏴mustakim ismail 🏴 (@mustakim_ismail) April 14, 2022
Netizens share their own experiences in changing diapers when out and about
His Tweet, which has attracted the attention of netizens across the country, led to many sharing their own experiences in dealing with diaper changes in public spaces such as shopping malls, while sharing examples of some malls that have provided convenience facilities for both parents in the event of a diaper change.
“AEON Mall Shah Alam has a changing room located outside their toilets. So both men and women can enter. The nursing room on the other hand is located behind the changing room and is covered. Husbands can change their children’s diapers just fine there.”
“i-City Mall Section 7 is also really convenient. AEON’s facilities have always been great for parents.”
“So far the one mall restroom that I have been most satisfied with is Toppen Tebrau. There’s a nursing room, a family restroom, and a dedicated diaper changing station for babies.”
“I was just about to comments about Toppen. Yes, they really are the best! Huge and pretty. The nursing room is also really ‘private’ as they have dedicated doors. Before this when my husband was done changing our child’s diaper, we would just head into the room together, lock the door and he would wait on me to breastfeed our child until I was done. I felt safe!”
“This must be at IOI City Mall. If at Pavilion Bukit Jalil, they have separate changing rooms. The area is also pretty big and pretty.”