Women can’t take life sitting down
March 13, 2012

This is no toilet humor, but some very unsanitary news. Cities are built by men, for men, and just like sky scrapers create phallic like symbols of prosperity, the sheer dearth of public toilets for women displays the utter disregard for the female.

Talk to any woman across China or India, about public toilets and you will uncover a nasty can of worms. From psychological problems, urinary infections and horror stories of the ghastly sights  in a women’s public toilet, to travel tales sans water, of the feat of holding it in for unmeasurable hours to being forced into embarrassing situations.  Inchin Closer spoke to many women across both countries, from varying backgrounds, job profiles, education streams and cultures and every one had a desperate tale to tell.

The movement more like a desperate plea to men to build more restrooms reached a crescendo recently when women in China created the ‘bathroom bharo’ or occupy men’s public toilets project. Sick of the lack of regard for women’s public hygiene facilities or dearth of women’s toilets in comparison to that of the population, women  filled men’s restrooms albeit for an hour, just to give the darker sex a cognizance of what its like to be a woman.

The first Chinese Occupation happened in Guangzhou on February 19th. The protest’s organiser, a university student named Li Tingting, helped stage another in Beijing a week later. She has since mentioned plans to carry out a third in Shenzhen.

While women in Pune, a satellite city to Mumbai in India, which is worse of than China in its women to restroom ratio were quick to follow suit. Inchin Closer therefore asks the obvious – Why do we disregard the need for women to use the restroom as much as men? We consider ourselves to live in modern, developing nations, yet we co-habitate in cities with appalling civic amenities.  Cities which flood, have a poor sewage system, where water distribution is a problem and potholed roads are common.  Cities in which garbage is piled for weeks by the roadside and where public transport never gets you where you want to go in a jiffy.

Nonetheless, the project occupy mens toilets seem to have fizzled out a week after it was started. Drumed up in the media due to women’s day, the sun seems to have set on the problem. While men acknowledged the issue, more because they had to wait for their partners until they finished their ablutions, the actual feat of building more public toilets for women is a far thought. Until then, women will have to rely on the go-go girl!

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