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Pool makes splash with gender jacuzzi split

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One of Erikdalsbadet's pools during the Eurogames in August 2015. Photo: Wilhelm Stokstad/TT
13:07 CET+01:00
Stockholm's largest swimming centre, Eriksdalsbadet is making waves after deciding to introduce segregated jacuzzis, following reports of groping beneath the bubbles.

Sweden may have an international reputation for promoting gender equality, but the Eriksdalsbadet complex – home to one of the most popular public swimming pools in Sweden – is introducing segregated hot tubs for the first time.

The move follows reports by increasing numbers of women, who claim they have been groped by men as they relax in the giant bubble baths.

“We've got a lot of requests, especially from women, to split the jacuzzis,” Sara Franzén Shilwan, the head of unit at Eriksdalsbadet told The Local, but refused to reveal the number of complaints made.

However she confirmed that there had been a noticeable rise in November and December last year.


The swimming hall Eriksdalsbadet. Photo: Emma Lidman/The Local

A trial of the segregated baths started two weeks ago and a final decision will be made by staff in May or June.

“We are trying to listen to our visitors,” Franzén added.

The decision has sparked a strong debate on social media, with reactions split between those grateful the idea is being tested, to others who believe the swimming pool has acted too hastily.

The Local spoke to Niklas Eriksson, 54, has he arrived for a swim at the centre on the island of Södermalm, along with his nine-year-old daughter.

“I think it sounds unnecessary, I don't know, I think we should be able to get along,” said Niklas.


Niklas Eriksson and and his daughter Elle Eriksson. Photo: Emma Lidman/The Local

Meanwhile Mats Stuvberg, 57, said he was unsure whether the pool had made the right decision.

“Hard question. If a woman has experienced being harassed then it's of course a problem. But generally I think we should be able to share pools and jacuzzis,” he said.

“I would not want to go in the jacuzzi if there were a lot of men in there,” argued Anna Cnattingius, 63.

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However she said that while she backed the idea of having separate jacuzzis for men and women, she felt there should also be a mixed gender option available.


Anna Cnattingius admits she would not want to go in the hot tub if there were many men in it. Photo: Emma Lidman/The Local

Eriksdalsbadet is planning to keep one of its bubble baths available for both genders.

“Since we have the benefit of having three hot tubs, we chose to split two of them,” Franzén said.

“Many women are thankful,” she explained, but admitted "there are of course some people who think it's wrong too”.

The move flies in the face of a number of other initiatives by public authorities across Sweden, designed to promote gender and LGBTQ equality.
 
A year ago a public swimming pool in the Stockholm suburb of Sundbyberg created a new changing room, designed to be used by the city's gay and transgender community. 
 
Meanwhile a library caused a stir after introducing gender neutral toilets.
 
By Emma Lidman

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