People are uncomfortable and embarrassed about some of our bodily functions and how we manage them. Among the most taboo of these are the process of waste elimination and the toilet. There are several slang expressions for toilet in English. A few that come to mind are: can, John, head, loo, happy seat, throne, porcelain throne, plumbing, lav, and many that are quite rude. I prefer to call the appliance by its proper name, the toilet.
A little bit of innocent bathroom humor doesn’t bother me at all, especially if it helps bring needed attention to a serious subject. This is especially true when it comes to discussing the appliance all of us must use several times each day. Toilets and sanitation are absolutely vital for our health and well-being. Thankfully, toilets have their own special day and at least one organization that work for toilet recognition.
Today is World Toilet Day, the international day promoted by the WTO (World Toilet Organization). The WTO was organized in 2001 and has grown to a current membership of more than 50 nations.
The humble toilet is something most of us take for granted, we do not and would rather not even discuss it. Toilets deserve discussion because of the dire lack of them. More than 2,500,000,000 people still have no access to private, safe toilets.
I remember my hosts in India warning me about walking through vacant lots in Mumbai because many people “do their business” in them. I was saddened and shocked to learn people are exposed to indignity, disease, and even assault when they eliminate bodily waste. This problem is multiplied many times over in many large cities and small villages around the globe.
The United Nations General Assembly added their clout to the efforts of the WTO by endorsing the celebration of World Toilet Day, each November 19th. A press release, last year, stated: “…Ending open defecation will lead to a 35 per cent reduction in diarrhoea, which results in over 750,000 deaths of children under five years of age every year,” Singapore’s representative said as he tabled a draft resolution on Sanitation for All, one of four adopted by consensus. Apart from establishing World Toilet Day, the text also urged Member States and the United Nations system to encourage behavioural change, to introduce policies that would increase sanitation among the poor….”
This year, the goal of the World Toilet Day campaign is to draw attention to how open defecation leads to violence and assault on women. Because attention is focused on toilets, people are collaborating to challenge, businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations to make changes. The various taboos surrounding toilets and their functions are being broken in order to encourage serious discussions.
World Toilet Day is a good time to be thankful for our own access to private, clean, personal sanitation. It’s time for some serious toilet talk to help bring toilet awareness into the public forum.