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Same Potties, Different Worlds

The conundrum of politically correct peeing

A Quartz dispatch from the front lines of the bathroom wars:

For the tens of thousands of refugee women trapped in Greece, daily life is made that much more treacherous by a very basic problem: unsafe bathrooms.

Refugee camps tend to have too few bathrooms, which are often mixed and unprotected, making them hotspots for sexual attacks on women and girls. While there are no hard statistics, reported cases include German guards at a reception center peeping at women in the bathrooms and attempted rapes at bathrooms along the refugee trail.

At Idomeni, Greece’s largest informal refugee camp, which the authorities started clearing this week, there were just 193 bathrooms and 84 showers for over 12,000 people, according to Emmanuel Massart of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Women there told me they wouldn’t go to the bathroom alone, and not at all at night.

The lack of of safe, private washrooms feeds into a host of daily indignities, women told me.

Sounds truly horrible. How would one fix this, Quartz?

But not far from Moria there is an example of how to do it right. In Kara Tepe, an open facility for nearly 1,000 vulnerable people who have been moved from Moria, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has built a washing area with signs that clearly designate well-lit, gender-separated washing areas.


Wait — you’re saying that gender-segregated bathrooms make women safer and more secure? Gosh, that’s news to me, especially because I was just reading in Quartz the other day about what a great thing it is to have non-gendered, unisex bathrooms in high schools, so trans students feel safe.

So it seems that we should have gender-segregated bathrooms for the safety and comfort of women at risk of being sexually harassed or assaulted by men … except when transgendered people say their safety depends on … oh, to hell with it.

(H/T: Reader M.B.)



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