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Women appeal for more public toilets


08:47, October 17, 2012

Volunteers launch a campaign to "occupy men's toilets" in Beijing earlier this year to call for more cubicles for women at public restrooms. Zou Hong / China Daily

A SIGN at a KFC restaurant lavatory in east China's Zhejiang Province has been put up telling female customers not to use the male restroom.

Located in a shopping mall in downtown Ningbo City, the placard reads, "For the convenience of our male customers, ladies please don't use the men's room."

KFC staff explained that female customers were using the men's room because they could not find enough toilets elsewhere. This prompted complaints from men who felt embarrassed seeing women in their restroom.

However, some Internet users have vented their frustration, arguing that women have no choice but to use male restrooms.

"Has the restaurant ever thought about the female customers? They'll only do this if it's an emergency," a posting said.

"But it's normal. I often think about using the men's room when I have been standing in a long queue for the women's lavatory while the men's is empty," a Weibo user, "Miss Toothpaste," said.

Similar predicaments appear in cities across China.

In Beijing, female citizens and tourists complain about waiting in queues outside public toilets.

"I'd like to let my wife use the men's room rather than waiting outside the women's for almost half an hour in the park during a weekend," said a Beijing native surnamed Wang.

In the latest effort to solve the toilet woes, the Beijing Commission of Urban Management and Environment may increase the number of public toilets for women. The new standard will make the ratio of female to male public toilets 1.5 or two to one.

Beijing has more than 12,000 public latrines, most of them located along main roads, squares, residential communities, parks, tourist attractions and markets in the urban areas.

But the number is obviously not enough for women, as long queues are often seen outside the public latrines.

The scarcity of public toilets has prompted many to use washrooms at KFC and McDonald's, as they have branches throughout cities and are regularly serviced and cleaned.

Beijing will build more than 2,000 public toilets by 2015, and some old ones will be renovated, said Cui Xuan, deputy director of the sanitation bureau of the commission.

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