A lot of news out of India this week about the use, misuse, abuse and disuse of toilets.
First up in Ainapur, an historic tomb is being used as a toilet by local residents, much to the fury of Raju S Vijapur. That reminds me of my trip to Pompeii back in 2000 – really, I’d never seen so much human excrement in a public space.
Over in Erode, The Hindu reports that an incomplete toilet has stood roofless for 2 years. There is a push on in the area to install private toilets in people’s homes and so the building hasn’t had the funding it needs to be completed. While locals say that the roofless structure can’t be used for anything else, the story doesn’t say if it’s still suitable as a toilet – perhaps if the local government body renamed it the Pudur Panchayat Tomb locals would start using it.
In Hyderabad, the State government has responded to reports of poor hygiene in teaching hospitals by contracting Sulabh to maintain their toilets. Sulabh International is one of my favourite organisations; they provide user-pays toilets and hygiene facilities to Indian villages and use the profits to educate children who would otherwise be human waste collectors.
But I think the most interesting bog news today is a short story out of the US. A 13 year old boy has allegedly used his teacher’s lunchbox to urinate in, when she wouldn’t let him go to the toilet.
I hope he did so to make a statement about the ridiculousness of placing constraints on our bladders. I’ve been in meetings where I’ve been too embarrassed to get up and go to the loo, the expectation being that one should wait until the end of the meeting. I’m all for strengthening pelvic floor muscles, but don’t tell me to hold onto a full bladder for three quarters of an hour and expect me to pay attention! There’s an assumption that as adults we should ‘know better’, plan our toilet breaks appropriately and not interrupt public or social events with toilet calls, but I think that’s unrealistic. Most of us simply aren’t thinking about our bladders all the time. I still find myself saying, many, many years after being toilet trained, “But I didn’t need to go earlier!”