21 July 2022
“The ruin is not in the closets, but in the heads” – the “immortal” words of Professor Preobrazhensky, which suggest that very often a person’s natural need is associated with the humiliation of human dignity. Remember at least school toilets with partitions without doors, or train station restrooms, where they are allowed free of charge only after presenting a ticket. How often do we brace ourselves before opening the door of a public toilet, because every time we don’t know what awaits us there? And holding your breath and using the toilet, trying not to hurt anything at the same time, is not only uncomfortable, but also humiliating, don’t you agree?! You may object that there are cafes and restaurants, but they may not be allowed either. The very fact of asking for permission, and moreover, being refused, is also not a pleasant prospect for an adult. As a result, many people make a choice in favour of gateways and bushes, and not only the psyche suffers from this, but also the city itself.
At the same time, toilets that do not comply with basic sanitary and hygienic standards humiliate human dignity, and a clean and safe toilet that can be used at any time in any place is an indicator of a high level of accessibility of the urban environment and the welfare of society.
The classic was right: the problem is “in the heads” of the citizens themselves, in which there is no culture of using public restrooms, as well as “in the heads”, or more precisely in the hands, of local authorities, who are obliged to provide the necessary number of specialized places for the needs of citizens.
An initiative group of social activists of our city decided to take this delicate, but at the same time vital topic under their control. As they say, now we are coming to you! Our goal is to assess the level of accessibility of public toilets for residents and guests of the city of Yoshkar–Ola, based on the principles of respect for human dignity.
Are there enough public toilets in our city? How and where can you find information about their location and working hours? How clean are they? What are the conditions for people with disabilities and young children? How is the accessibility of public toilets ensured during public mass events? Is it possible to use the toilet in government institutions?
If we talk specifically about our city, then in most cases there is no information for citizens about the locations of toilets, there are no necessary signs and information about their working hours.
In addition, the problem is that for public institutions there is no direct obligation or prohibition in the law to let people into the toilets. Their maintenance is a very troublesome matter, so not every entrepreneur takes on such responsibility. Most often, toilets open their doors only to customers of the institution.
– For any person, without exception, whether it is a mother with a child, a young man or a pensioner, it is important that there is an opportunity, if necessary, to use the sanitary facilities of the urban space. The possibility of their use is a human right to the exercise of natural needs, – comments the chairwoman of NGO “Man and Law” Irina Protasova. – From the point of view of human rights, the absence of such an opportunity can be regarded, under certain conditions, as a humiliation of human dignity. We assume that there are not enough public toilets on the territory of our city. Monitoring will allow you to assess the current situation, taking into account the opinions of residents and guests of the capital.
To do this, a team of public activists within the framework of the “School of Public Controller” has developed tools, as well as a special observation map. Monitoring will be carried out from 1 July to 20 August. Special attention will be paid to the availability of toilets during the upcoming City Day.
Together with other socially-oriented NGOs of Mari El Republic, which also joined the study of the situation, requests were sent to the Government of the Republic of Mari El, the Ministry of Social Development and other state bodies in order to provide the necessary information on this issue.
If you are concerned about this topic, and you consider it important to work on the improvement of the territory of Yoshkar-Ola and the accessibility of the urban environment, we suggest taking part in an online survey that will help us assess the current situation.