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Loo wars break out between Chinese men and women

Beijing, Thu, 01 Mar 2012 ANI

Beijing, Mar.1 (ANI): Chinese women are faced with a major problem - not having enough public toilets to relief themselves.


According to the New York Times, Chinese women often face a long wait and pass their time watching men saunter into theirs.


Women have complained that they have to wait twice as long as their male counterparts to gain entry into a public toilet.


Now, according to the paper, some of these women are protesting.


Despite that, national standards for public street toilets in urban China recommend a one-to-one ratio of men's stalls, including urinals, to women's stalls.


Since sanitation workers - almost uniformly women - routinely take over at least one women's stall for their cleaning supplies, women typically end up with even less opportunity to relieve themselves.


It is not, some would argue, the most compelling public issue that confronts China at the moment.


But it is nonetheless one that Li Tingting, 22, a public management student in Shanxi Province, wants China to address.


Li's tactics are rather avant-garde for China: A little more than a week ago, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, she and half a dozen other activists commandeered the men's stalls at a busy public restroom near a park.


For three-minute intervals, they warded off the men and invited the women to shorten their waits by using the vacated men's stalls.


Then they waved the men back in for 10 minutes.


The operation, dubbed "Occupy Men's Toilets," ended after an hour with, according to Li, greater public awareness and no trouble.


The local government noted a few days later that since last March, the ratio of men's stalls to women's in all new or renovated public restrooms in Guangzhou had been set at 1:1.5.


Xinhua, China's official news agency, reported that the city responded promptly to the activists' demands.


Public restrooms are not a new topic for China, nor a particularly delicate one.


The World Health Organization estimates that tens of millions of Chinese have no access to toilets and defecate in the open.


A 2010 report estimated that 45 percent of Chinese lacked access to improved sanitation facilities that protect users from contact with excrement, contributing to the risk of disease.


But China's sanitation has improved drastically in the past 20 years and continues to get better.


Riding a historic property boom, Chinese are now buying nearly 19 million toilets a year, about twice the number sold in the United States, according to industry estimates.


Last November, China hosted the World Toilet Organization's 11th World Toilet Summit and Expo on Hainan Island. The Chinese authorities there said that the island, a tourist spot, was in the midst of a "toilet revolution." (ANI)


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