The Right to Pee

By Stephanie Sampson

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I am about to share too much information about myself. But I have a point. I pee a freakishly frequent amount of times per day. I was taught growing up that water is essential for the body to work properly, so I drank it like it was going out of style.

The right to pee campaign came to my attention last week, and I learned that there is one thing that I take advantage of. It’s the fact that I have access to a hygienic restroom. The lack of public restrooms is actually a national issue in Mumbai. According to the Hindustan Times, more than half of India’s adolescent girls, about 63 million, have no access to a private toilet. There are a lot of people and not enough public restrooms. According to a United Nations report, that means that more of them have access to cell phones than toilets.

The good news is that activists and over 33 charities are campaigning for better access for women to use toilets in Mumbai. This campaign, called the Right to Pee, is creating awareness of the horrendous conditions of the public restrooms that women in Mumbai have access to. The Hindustan Times said that the bathrooms are often dirty, with broken doors and no running water or lights. They also said that where there are no public toilets, the search for a suitable place comes with the constant threat of sexual harassment or rape.

Not only are the conditions disgusting, but often these women have to pay to pee. That’s right, they pay to use the restroom.

Here in the United States I have never had to worry about whether or not I would be able to find a clean public restroom or if I would have a safe place to go to. Access to public restrooms is a right and especially as a

Dharavi_Slum_in_Mumbai
Dharavi is a locality in Mumbai Maharashtra, India. It houses one of the largest slums in the world.

woman, I should be able to pee in peace.

Men are now joining the movement by not urinating in public. The New York Times said that a male attendant usually oversees the toilets, collecting fees. They also said that petty corruption is rampant in India, and public toilets are no exception: Men must pay to use a toilet but can use urinals free. This is due to the fact that their urinals don’t need water. It astounds me that women have no choice but to pay money for something they cannot control.

The streets of Mumbai are unsanitary. In 2014, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the clean Mumbai mission to improve sanitation and increase funding for public toilets to end open defecation. I can only hope that there is a solution to this problem and that woman gain the right to pee once again in Mumbai.

 

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