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Ombudsman: Barber shops must also serve women

Finland's equality ombudsman says barber shops must serve women and charge a price based on services provided, not the customer's gender.

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Image: AOP

In recent years, barber shops offering haircuts for 10 or 15 euros have popped up in many towns across Finland. The discounts have attracted women who want to get their hair trimmed at a reasonable price, too.

But some barbers have refused to serve women, arguing they only cut men’s hair, and that's illegal, according to Miko Lempinen from the Office of the Ombudsman for Equality.

“The refusal to offer barber services to a woman amounts to discrimination. Women are entitled to be served in barber shops," Lempinen says, adding that a barber who doesn't accept all kinds of customers could face a court date and fines.

Pricing must be equal too

Under the law on gender equality, hair stylists cannot choose their customers based on sex or any other criteria.

Pricing must relate to the services provided. If the time, tools, and skills required for trimming women's tresses are the same as those for cutting men's hair, then the price must be the same too, Lempinen says.

That said, hair stylists should not group their services into women’s and men’s categories.

Naturally, the law also works the other way around as beauty salons cannot turn away male customers either, according to Lempinen.

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