MPs are urging department stores to scrap unisex changing rooms following a rise in the number of women suffering traumatic encounters with men.
Last week Charlotte Kirby, 25, posted a video tearfully revealing how two men met her while she was trying on outfits in a unisex dressing room at Primark in Cambridge.
Now a Mail on Sunday investigation has found her ordeal is common, revealing repeated distress at M&S and rival chains with no gender-segregated spaces.
MPs are urging department stores to scrap unisex changing rooms following a rise in the number of women suffering traumatic encounters with men, including Charlotte Kirby, 25, who was left in tears after two men entered her unisex wardrobe at Primark in Cambridge.
A mum has said that while taking her teenage daughter to M&S for her first bras, they encountered a man coming out of a cubicle with his testicles exposed.
Another mum tweeted how, at another M&S store, in Exeter, a man left his cubicle door open in the ‘gender neutral’ changing room, exposing himself as he tried on pants without any underwear.
A woman complained and the man was then escorted out, protesting.
Another mum said she banned her 13-year-old daughter from shopping alone after finding out her local H&M only offered unisex dressing rooms.
On Mumsnet, a woman shared how she was secretly filmed in a unisex locker room.
Our investigation uncovered numerous criminal cases involving sexual assault, voyeurism and harassment in unisex locker rooms.
This year, a Met Police officer received a suspended prison sentence for secretly filming a woman in a dressing room at Primark.
H&M, John Lewis, M&S, Monsoon and Primark are no longer offering women-only spaces after transgender activists called for unisex changing rooms – despite a survey showing 98% of the public wanted single-sex spaces.
‘A PERVERT FILMED MY DAUGHTER ABOVE THE CABIN’
A mother has told how her 18-year-old daughter was filmed by a pervert in unisex locker rooms at H&M.
Nicky Dobson told our inquest the man had performed a sex act while filming from an adjoining booth at the South of England store.
She said: “My daughter was in a locker room that was not labeled as male or female.
“The cabins had lockable doors but there were spaces above and below the bulkheads. I stood a few meters away.
“The man was filming above the cabin – he had stood on a stool to hold his phone above.
“I’m amazed that I couldn’t see it as I was just outside the cabin. We weren’t aware at the time, but were later told by the security guard and the police that he had performed a sexual act in the cabin, as he viewed the footage on his phone .
Ms Dobson urged stores wishing to support people who feel uncomfortable in single-sex changing rooms to provide customers with a safer third space.
She said the current situation “allows predatory men to access safe spaces for women and girls”, adding stores: “In the face of sexual crimes on their premises, they continue to ignore a large number of complaints from women “.
Tory MP Miriam Cates said: ‘No one is saying all men are a risk, but if you are a predatory man you now have an open door – literally – to vulnerable women in a state of undress.’
“I really hope these big companies wake up to what they’re doing because it’s not safe.”
Labor MP Rosie Duffield said: ‘It is completely unacceptable for major retailers to deny women and girls the right to change in private.
And women’s rights activist Maya Forstater said: ‘There are men who will take advantage of opportunities for voyeurism, exposure and spying with cell phones.’
“Retailers shouldn’t be afraid to have clear signs saying no to men who want to strip with women and girls.”
Emma Salmon, from Woman’s Place UK, added: “Retailers should not ignore or downplay women’s need to feel safe in public.
“Policies that affirm women’s right to privacy and dignity in public spaces must be reinstated immediately.”
Following huge criticism after Charlotte Kirby’s video of her Cambridge ordeal, Primark said last night it planned to reinstate ‘a dedicated women’s dressing room’ while continuing to provide unisex changing rooms.
He said larger stores would have separate changing rooms for women and men.
In smaller stores, men and women would use the same entrance but would be directed to different stall hallways.
In addition, cabin curtains will be longer with mechanisms to hold them “firmly in place”.
Nicola Williams, from the group Fair Play For Women, said: “If Primark still thinks ‘only for women’ can include men who call themselves ‘women’, their solution is a sham.”
H&M said its locker rooms would remain unisex.
A spokeswoman said: “We strive to be inclusive and allow customers to choose which dressing room to use.”
M&S said: “We have fitting rooms in our womenswear and menswear departments and each is made up of individual lockable cabins to make sure everyone feels comfortable and has the privacy they need.
“Although they are primarily used by customers of this gender, as an inclusive retailer and in line with most other retailers, we allow customers to choose their dressing room.”
H&M, John Lewis, M&S, Monsoon and Primark are no longer offering women-only spaces after transgender activists called for unisex changing rooms – despite a survey showing 98% of the public wanted single-sex spaces. Pictured: A cloakroom at Primark