On The Value Of Free Public Toilets

What separates a “first world” country from a second or third world country?  Free and sanitary public toilets would be high on the list of distinguishing features.

In Mumbai, India, a campaign is underway to try to shame public authorities into establishing free public toilets for women.  Currently, women have to pay for the privilege of using a public toilet, while men can do so for free.  Moreover, there is a huge shortage of toilets, both public and private, in India.  Indeed, a recent survey showed that half — half! — of Indian homes do not have toilets.  As a result, it is commonplace for people to relieve themselves in public.  In a nation as crowded as India, that reality has obvious public health consequences, to say nothing of its negative effect on the sights and smells of everyday existence.

Americans take the existence of (relatively) clean and accessible public facilities for granted.  It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if they weren’t available — but in many parts of India that is the way of the world.  As India continues to surge forward to solidify its position as a global economic and military powerhouse, it also should focus on basic decencies like public toilets for its people.  You’re far more likely to be happy, productive, and full of self-respect if the call of nature doesn’t require you to squat, embarrassed, by the side of the road.

1 thought on “On The Value Of Free Public Toilets

  1. Ah darlin’ we Americans do take this for granted. I’ll never forget the toilet in N Vietnam I had to visit. But the clean vs filthy or free vs paid originates in Ancient Rome. After Nero bankrupted the treasury, Vespasian made all the free public toilet not free. You had to pay an as to use it. His son Titus complained once and Vespasian took an as from the till, stuck it under his son’s nose and asked. “if it smelled any different from all the other asses….” well that helped dig Rome outta debt. Maybe the US should …we won’t go there.

    Like

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