Y.S. RANA , UNA (HP)—Tall claim of no discrimination against fair sex of the state
government belies as a gender-friendly state—Himachal Pradesh—ignores equality at public toilets at Una bus stand. It has been happening since long where fair sex is being forced to pay for every use of public toilets. There is a state policy prohibiting discrimination against fair sex in any way. But it seems the state government does
not take equality at the toilet seriously. Usually, men and women in congested and humanely-soaked cities may be seen bound by at least one common misery –too many sharing too few toilets. But there is a difference—unlike men, women are charged for use of toilets at public places.
One of the difficulties women encounter at public places is that of access to toilet. It happened at Una bus stand last Saturday when women were seen protesting before the public toilets against this ‘levy.’ Protest turned into as a feminist issue for awhile. Despite this the attendant continued to collect the penalty. On enquiry it is found that here male toilets are free whereas women are being charged for Rs 5 as ‘pee penalty’.
“If the local authority cannot provide free-of-charge toilets, it should also not discriminate the fair sex on this count,” said a passenger. Especially, women depend on public toilets more. Local bodies have discretionary powers but not seemed to have a duty to provide public conveniences free-of-charge at public places, he added.
In the State public toilets are non-mechanized and most these man by attendants who accepted tips at their whims. Often there are more public toilets for men than for women. Woman commuters are always at the receiving end. The authority there avoided reply the
Usually, pay toilets there came under attack from women but authority that may be did not seek to right the anomaly. Public toilets require to pay of any individual to use it. The reason for charging money for using these at railway stations, bus stands, markets or other public places is for the maintenance and repairs of the toilet. But inside condition of these
toilets say otherwise. Toilets are dirty, stinking and without running water. Poor infrastructure combined with an insufficient deployment of cleaning staff coupled with apathy of the authority create nightmarish for fair sex forced to visit such a facility on payment. Question arises where this amount goes?
What hits the fair sex the hardest is the fee charged. Woman commuters are hit hardest There is no one who seeks to set right the anomaly. Toilets for women particularly in public places have been a perennial problem whether at railway stations or bus stands, highways, markets, tourist spots. Added to this apathy is the dilapidated state of existing public convenience.
A woman fruit vendor at the bus stand says,”I hardly earn Rs 50-60 a day. Yet, whenever I need to relieve myself I have no option but to go to the public toilet where I end up paying Rs 3-5 for every use. As a whole I have to part with Rs 15 from his profit each day whereas man vendor on the other side enjoys the freebie. How can I afford it?”
Though State has a relatively good record on human development indicators yet it showed a dismal record of public sanitation. State claims 85 per cent public toilet coverage. Everyone admit it is absolutely unfair to the fair sex but there is no one who seeks to set right the anomaly.