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Woman denied haircut – for being a woman

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A WOMAN says she feels discriminated against after being refused a haircut in a barbershop because of her gender.

Cloë Freeman says she was turned away from Misters Mens Hairdressers because of her gender. Picture: JON GUEGAN (26863116)

Civil servant Cloë Freeman (29) now wants an apology. She said that although she recognised that the barbershop may not have intended to discriminate against her, the incident had been ‘upsetting’ and had shown ‘a general lack of awareness’.

A lawyer has said the treatment of Ms Freeman was discriminatory.

Ms Freeman’s call for an apology comes after she went to Misters Mens Hairdressers at Charing Cross last week for the first time to get a fade haircut – a style commonly requested in barbershops which cuts the back and sides of someone’s hair as short as possible and fades into the style on top.

However, when Ms Freeman went into the hairdresser, she said she was refused ‘point blank’ before having a chance to say a word – because she was a woman.

When the JEP approached Misters Mens Hairdressers, a woman who worked there – but would not give her name – defended her position to refuse Ms Freeman a haircut.

She said: ‘Women sometimes come in here looking for a haircut because it is cheaper than in salons.

‘But when men come in and see a woman sitting here they are put off coming in as they don’t like being here when a woman is here.’

Ms Freeman said: ‘I wasn’t even given a chance to say what I was looking for. I was told that they don’t service women, end of. But I think when you look at my hair for just two seconds, it is pretty obvious I wasn’t coming in looking for a bouncy blow dry.

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‘The only reason I couldn’t get what I wanted was because I was a woman.

‘I had been shaving my own hair for quite some time and a while ago decided to try out a new style and approached Image Barbers at West’s Centre to get a fade.

‘Initially I was a bit apprehensive, but when the guys in the barber didn’t blink an eye, I then felt comfortable enough to approach a few different barber’s shops in town.’

Ms Freeman added that she had gone to salons in the past but found that barbers had better expertise in the style that she wanted.

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‘I was particularly taken aback by the reception I got when I walked into Misters because I have had fades done by around four or five barber’s shops in town and not one of them made me feel unwelcome, or even acted as though me being there was unusual.’

In addition to what Ms Freeman described as an unnecessarily abrupt reception, she added that the shop was completely empty at the time.

‘What I was looking to get done would take around 20 to 30 minutes and, as the place was completely empty, it made the situation even stranger.’

Advocate Barbara Corbett from Corbett Le Quesne law firm said: ‘This is a case of discrimination. And while there may be a defence, I cannot see which one would apply. It’s like a nail technician refusing to do a man’s nails.

‘Men go to barbers to get a particular kind of haircut for the kind of hair they have. If a man with long hair went to a salon to get his hair cut, the salon wouldn’t be allowed to refuse him.

‘So if this woman was looking for the same haircut as some men get, but was refused on the grounds of being a woman, this is a case of discrimination.’

She added that Misters Mens Hairdressers’ argument that having a woman getting her hair cut in the premises could make men feel uncomfortable was not a justifiable defence in this instance.

Since the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 was introduced in September 2014, people in Jersey have had the right not to be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race.

Since that time, the law has been extended to cover areas including gender, sexual orientation and age.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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