Many people ignore the importance of having clean toilets. And in our last radio episode, talking about toilets is talking about the shit that truly matters, pun intended. In my home, the toilet is the most important room in my apartment. It gets more attention than the kitchen and I admit to spending time in it more than an hour a day, brooding and doing my business. Honestly, I find it difficult to do my business in other toilets, unless Mother Nature is really screaming at me with passionate urgency.
A 2017 study commissioned by the World Health Organization says that there are about 675 million people defecating in the open air, without the privacy of toilets, and a huge percentage of this are Indians. To be seen squatting over the bushes is not only dangerous for exposing your genitalia to the elements, bugs, plants and larger animals, but exposure to the most dangerous animal of all, other humans.
Studies have shown that more 500 million people the defecate in the open are mostly from India. Movies have depicted the lack of lactrines in many households that women often travel in large groups to the open fields or forests while lugging around vats of water for them to wash with after they finish their business. They also travel in groups for their own safety, because not only is the lack of toilets a public health issue, it is also a concern for women’s rights as squatting in the fields do not allow them dignity and are subject to ridicule and, worse, sexual molestation.
Our excretory systems do not work at the same rate. Some digest faster or slower than others, and that knowing when you will go cannot be scheduled. There are people who hardly drink enough water fearing that it may make them need to go to the toilet in places where there might not be any. Consciously controlling your sphincter will hardly work in helping you hold your pee. Doing this habitually will result in kidney stones and other complications.
In the Philippines, the matter of toilets are far more troublesome for the PWD community. The late Kcat Yarza, our friend and one of the pioneers of our organization PWD Philippines, had an incident with Fisher Mall prior to her passing. She has been using a wheelchair as her condition (Neurofibromatosis Type 2) began to worsen around late 2018. She was at the Fishermall’s top floor venue area when she went out to use the bathroom. Sadly the mall’s bathroom for the PWD users did not have handle bars that she could have used to hoist herself to and from her wheelchair. Eventually, she fell from her wheelchair and was exposed to people who tried to help her. Had the mall installed handle bars as required by law, the incident could have been avoided. It was alleged that the acting head of the NCDA at that time, sided with the mall and had their own hearing and issued signed resolutions without inviting the complainants, which was Ms Yarza and her mother.
Now with the issue of having the genderless bathroom, the bathroom for the PWDs have been redesigned to accommodate transgenders and intersex people. While this is all well and good, we believe in the PWDPhil that all PWD bathrooms must have the necessary handle bars as mandated by law, as well as the wider doors and better security.
Having clean toilets must be the priority of every nation and every government in the world. Every home in the Philippines, whether in the city or in the provinces must have one clean toilet, not to share one with other neighbors.