Can you believe it is that time of year again? The days have shortened and nights have got colder. You guessed it, it’s already world toilet day! Every year thousands come together to raise awareness about the sanitation crisis happening worldwide. Shockingly only 1 in 3 have access to a clean and safe toilet.
For us there are often little issues, when nature calls we simply answer to its request. However, across the world there are multiple factors that contribute to this. Journalistic.org in conjunction with London Cleaning System have explored the cultural, social and economic factors of toilets worldwide.
Japan: The Futuristic toilet
Japan; a country known for Sushi, Manga and not least their advance in Technology. This is very much inclusive of the Western Style Japanese toilet. Such come with a plethora of features to treat your behind; such as a posterior washer, air deodoriser, as well a temperature adjuster for your seat. These features are just the start of the treatment that those fortunate enough will be presented with. So if you’re ever in Japan, look forward to being welcomed to sit on what could only be compared to a lavatory throne.
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Germany: The Shelf toilet
If you have travelled to Germany, what you may have been faced with when visiting the toilet, differs quite literally. German toilet’s mimic their straight up and direct culture, placing focus on hygiene and health. It is no laughing matter, and unlike on this side of the pond, there is little humour or embarrassment attached to the idea. German toilets have a reversed bowl design, allowing them to keep a regular eye on their health. However, it proves difficult to flush away, so the old placing toilet roll in the bowl trick should work a treat.
India: The world’s biggest open toilet
The population of India is almost 1.2 billion, with over half the population not having access to toilet’s. Many Indian’s have no option but to defecate in areas surrounding railway tracks. Water aid claim that this has resulted in over 186,000 child deaths a year, through poor hygiene often leading to malnutrition from diarrhoea. As well as hygiene factors, millions of women are at risk daily through exposing themselves, becoming vulnerable to harassment, rape and violence. Through the caste system, certain groups are more vulnerable to such risks.
The Dalit community have been previously known as the “untouchables”, being born into a life of dirty labour. The community has minimal rights and are given no choice but to take on manual scavenging, often resulting in death. Laws have prohibited this act, though through such a long standing caste system, it proves difficult to abolish. India hopes to move towards positive changes, in hopes that every house will have a toilet by 2019. This ambitious plea would mean that 61,000 toilets would have to be built a day to achieve this.
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Singapore: The “don’t forget to flush” toilet
In Singapore you could be facing a hefty fine if you don’t comply to the laws of the loo! Flushing the toilet is not just courtesy, it is the law of the land. If you are caught failing to do so, you may have to pay around £120! If that sounds odd to you, it is also recommended not to urinate in a lift; they are equipped with Urine Detection Devices, setting off an alarm which will lock you in till the police arrive!
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USA: The gender neutral toilet
In the last 10 years, figures of individuals who identify as transgender have doubled to 1.3 million. In May 2016, it was announced that Government funded schools must comply to individual’s internal sexual gender. However, 11 states announced they were planning to sue the Obama administration on such laws, claiming it was simply “a massive social experiment”. This attitude has led to a growth in gender neutral toilets across the US, which is particularly rising across colleges. Research found they are present on around 150 campuses, and popularising across America and even here in the UK!
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Portugal: The bowl only toilet!
In Portugal, it is actually illegal to urinate in the sea. Concerns over hygiene enforced this law, though we are not quite sure exactly how this would be measured. The best advice to avoid being caught out however, would be to pee before dipping in the sea!
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Ghana: The deteriorating toilet
Ghana is another country like India which holds concern for open defecation. There are three out of six Ghanaians practising it on a daily basis. However, much progress has been made in relation to improving water sources; although 23% of Ghanaian children still become ill from malnutrition, related to unsafe water and sanitation. David Duncan, UNICEFs chief of WASH in Ghana, claims that whilst countries such as India are improving dramatically, Ghana is in fact doing the opposite. He states that if it continues this way, it won’t be in our lifetime that open defecation will end- it could in fact take 500 years. The issues seem to point partially to the education of hygiene and sanitation; even in places where they have access to toilets, they are still defecating in the open.
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Greece: The bin it toilet
Visit Greece, and you ought to avoid flushing toilet paper down the bowl. Greek sewers were built by the British in the 1930’s and 40’s. They were built upon pipes which do not take to toilet paper waste. Just like sanitary products, they are to be binned. It is best to follow this advice, or you may spend your time having to brush up on your Greek to call out a plumber!
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United Kingdom: The disappearing public toilet
Here in the UK, we have had changes our self when it comes to public toilets. In May 2016 it was reported that around 1,786 public toilets had been closed down in the past decade. Many have complained about the lack of public toilets, claiming it doesn’t preserve their dignity. Filip of londoncleaningsystem.co.uk says “many of our team used to cover work in Public Toilets, however there has been a sharp decline in recent years since councils completed demolished or simply left them empty.” Alternatively, some have been refurbished completely, and people have got creative. In January 2015, Ladies and Gentleman was launched in Kentish Town, offering a cosy hideaway cocktail bar!
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If you would like more information on how you could raise awareness of the sanitation crisis in countries such as Ghana and India, please visit http://www.worldtoiletday.info/Feature Image Credit: magic pictures/Shutterstock