Let's Talk Feminine Hygiene: My Experience With Toilets in India.

Feminine hygiene, toilets in India, toilet manners, what to do.

I am sure most of us have wanted to discuss feminine hygiene and I feel there is no sufficient awareness even among urban women. I feel the discussion never happens mostly because of the taboo the Indian society attributes to discussion of sexuality or the female body. I know even most of my family members would not feel comfortable speaking about this. But, feminine hygiene is a matter of health and we must come out of our inhibitions and talk about it. I thought I would share my two pence of experience and wisdom if it helps.

When one of our friends here wanted me to review V-Wash, I had in mind to do this.

Here are some random thoughts:

Even in urban India toilets for women are an issue. In my city, I feel there are no sufficient number of public toilets and the ones there are, are mostly extremely dirty.

 I used to teach in a college where even the institute's staff room started giving UTI to us.It was so dirty that even the staff room nearby would be filled with unbearable stink. Not many wanted to take it up with the authorities because well, talking about 'toilets' is not polite. But, my question is, is contracting UTI very nice as well?

When I reported it, in stead of being concerned about the dirtiness, I was asked if I was sure that I contracted it from the institute and I I was, how did I know?  On mentioning that there were several faculty members who had contracted the same, I was promised that it would be taken care of. Needless to mention, nothing happened.

Throughout my school life, even though I attended one of the most elite schools in Calcutta I and I am sure all the other students were afflicted by the choice either we have to hold it back for six to seven hours which could be tolling on our health or, we could still use the extremely dirty toilets where no sane person should go and risk illness again. In this case, I would say, it was mostly the fault of the parents who did not teach proper toiler manners and flushing after use, as a courtesy to others.
That's Victoria Memorial

During my days in college things were the same. We spoke to the principal, but well, nothing.

At the university, the situation was no different. In fact, the number of women's toilet is lesser. Once, I recall, women's toilets were being renovated. They started working on all the toilets in one go so that we could not use ANY of the toilets throughout the day. Can you imagine the ordeal?

What I suggest you to do:

Demand from your institution cleaner toilets. Most of the times it is argued that the toilets get dirty during the course of the day. You can suggest that those can be cleaned once during the day time.

If anyone raises a voice, do back up. Bizarrely, at my workplace, while everyone kept complaining about the condition of the toilets among themselves, no one actually joined in when I spoke about it to the authorities. No one even agreed to come forward including those who had suffered.  I did what I had to do. I did not want to risk my health again.
I am sure, most of the students also went through the same ordeal. The farce lies in the fact that the same authority members (  mostly academicians)  would perhaps speak in seminars about the importance of women's toilets in India and how it would positively impact on women's empowerment.

Use public toilets if you have to. I suggest do not hold back. If you do not pee, you can actually get infections and other health issues.

I know many women who do not drink water because they do not want to either use public toilets or feels it immodest to use the toilets of the households they are visiting. While the first makes sense, the second does not. Here taboo is what stops them. Urination or defecation is natural to all living organisms. Try getting rid of the senseless taboo at the risk of jeopardizing your health.

I suggest carrying  toilet tissues and feminine wipes. After using a public toilet, wipe your lady parts. It should prevent risks to a certain extent.

Most importantly, I also suggest that as a courtesy to others, while using public toilets clean after you have used it. Flush and if possible wipe the toilet seats with the toilet paper provided. Teach your kids and family members the same. If we all learn this, things would at least marginally get better.

Do come forward with your experiences too. It might be a small step towards an awareness. Please share this post with your friends and family as well.