Women in Mumbai fight for their right to free public toilets

Finding relief in a public toilet is free of charge for men but not women in the Indian city

Relief at last

Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images

Women in Mumbai can own property and vote. They even make up half of the city’s civic authority, a collection of elected and unelected officials. Something they can’t do, however, is pee for free. Women have to pay a fee to use their city’s public toilets, while men do not. And, not surprisingly, the women aren’t happy about it. As a result, 35 NGOs have teamed up to launch a campaign called “Right to Pee,” urging authorities to eliminate the public toilet fee and bring in other amenities for women.

A 2009 study by the Center for Civil Society found that Mumbai had only 132 public toilets designated for women—several of which required extensive repairs—while the men had 1,534. The situation is so dire, women often resort to carrying a bag with them, a solution known as the “flying toilet.” And because only half of India’s homes have toilets, public sanitation is more important than ever.

So far the 35 NGOs have collected over 7,000 residents’ signatures on the “Right to Pee” petition, which they are going to present to Mumbai’s civic authority—its female half, in particular.


Women in Mumbai fight for their right to free public toilets

  1. We all know how hard women work and how they are expert at juggling many jobs and keeping the kids fed etc. etc in the face of obstacle after obstacle. We must keep them down at all cost otherwise they will quickly take over the world. We can’t have that now can we?

  2. That’s some country you’ve got there, India.

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