Seats are reserved for women in trains and buses and they also enjoy 50% reservation in the civic body. However, when it comes to public urinals, women have to first hunt for one and then pay for using it unlike men who don’t have to shell out a paisa.
DNA in its front-page story on November 11, 2011, reported how women were wrongly charged for using public toilets. Subsequently, through its awareness campaign about urinary tract infection among women, DNA highlighted the issue of lack of public toilets for the fairer sex.
At least 35 NGOs who have started a signature campaign called ‘Right to Pee’ have now sought help from women corporators — who enjoy a majority in the civic body — to ensure clean toilets for women in the city. The NGOs want the toilets to provide facilities to change and dispose of sanitary pads.
“Though the civic body rules state that no one should be charged for using public toilets, women are asked to pay,” said Rahul Gaikwad of the Committee of Resources Organisation. “BMC officials assured us last year that the rule will soon be implemented effectively. However, nothing has happened so far.”
“We have decided to take up the issue with women corporators. They must have faced similar problems and can raise the issue in the house,” Gaikwad said.
The NGOs surveyed 129 public toilets in the city and found that many do not have boards stating that women can use them for free. Besides, the toilets were dirty.
“Fifty per cent seats are reserved for women in local bodies, there is 33% reservation for them in buses and there are ladies special trains. But it is very sad that the basic issue has been neglected. Women have had to suffer a lot because of it,” said Minu Gandhi from NGO Apanalaya.
“Women must not be made to pay at public toilets. We will take up the issue with civic authorities,” said Shiv Sena corporator Dr Shubha Raul.