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Haircut row: Woman speaks out after story sparks online debate

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A WOMAN subjected to ‘extreme’ comments online after she was refused a haircut in a St Helier barbershop because of her gender says the criticism highlights a lack of awareness about the discrimination law.

Cloe Freeman

Last week, Cloë Freeman (29) spoke to the JEP after she was refused a ‘fade’ – a traditional male haircut – from Misters Men’s Hairdressers at Charing Cross because she was a woman.

The woman who refused her later claimed that men would be ‘put off’ by a woman being in the hairdressers.

The story generated hundreds of comments on the JEP social media accounts, many of which were negative towards Ms Freeman, and received national attention.

Ms Freeman – a civil servant – said the negative reactions came from both men and women, many of whom accused her of ‘causing a fuss’ or ‘looking for attention’.

‘A lot of people had an issue with me going to more than one barbershop and I was accused of shopping around to look for trouble, which is so irrational.

‘I mean, I also buy my lunch in four or five different places and would hope not to be turned away from one of them for being a woman.’

Ms Freeman said that while she was not surprised by the onslaught of ‘very extreme views’ which the article generated she hoped it would lead to a change in how some businesses operated.

‘There was a time when barbers also acted as a surgery and a dentist 150 years ago but businesses change as society does.

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‘I can’t change everyone’s opinion, but I would hope that my experience will encourage more people to speak about issues of discrimination which may then encourage a change in behaviour among some of the businesses in Jersey,’ Ms Freeman said.

‘Someone online made a good point that if the woman in Misters had said that customers would be put off by a black person being in the barbershop then more people would understand that to be discriminatory.

‘But because I was a woman looking for a man’s haircut, people seemed to really miss the point that it was very simply in breach of the Discrimination Laws currently in place.’

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.

Ms Freeman added: ‘I think there are a lot of businesses who genuinely don’t understand the law, and their legal obligations to adhere to it. This is an education issue and my main aim to create awareness.’

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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