Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Being that November 19th, World Toilet Day, is almost upon (or beneath) us, couldn't help but note this news item. After all - using the toilet is part of our daily life. Right?

Seems that public bathrooms are an uncommon source of controversy with experts arguing over how their usage can avoid discrimination by class or sex.

Actually I have to confess it never entered my mind as to using the toilet being a discriminating act but then go know...

"In the USA, but also in many other parts of the world - including India ... issues having to do with human waste are taboo from public discussion. It is a last frontier," said Harvey Molotch, a professor of cultural analysis at New York University (NYU).

To be honest it's not a topic most likely many of us think about. Write about, however...

At a conference in New York City organised by NYU and the New York Architecture Centre, architects, sociologists, designers, activists, health officials and city leaders have gathered to discuss how the toilets of the future might be overhauled, and debate the potential civic and social effects.

The conference also saw the premiere of the film "Q2P", written and directed by India's Paromita Vohra.

The documentary, filmed in Mumbai with its title an abbreviation of "queue to pee," takes a long look - 55 minutes worth - at public facilities. The film depicts who uses public toilets including sexual, social and even caste nuances.

One (me) wonders the methodology used and who actually held the camera and whether or not said person(s) entered the hallowed internal world of the bathroom and/or stall.

The conference, "Outing the water closet," according to NYU, aims to reconsider and rebuild the public toilet.

Oh? Now bathrooms are being..."outed"? What were they before one wonders...

Parallel to the gathering in New York, some 170 delegates from dozens of countries were attending in India another international conference on access to bathrooms.

Non-governmental groups such as the German Toilet Organisation were to press their campaign for a universal right to clean lavatories, especially for women.

"Access to appropriate sanitation is a human right," reads one of the group's slogans. "It's time to break the 'toilet taboo'."

"This silence disables everyone to some degree, but particularly certain groups - women most clearly," Mr Molotch said of the taboos on discussing the issue in some countries.


No comments: