No toilets for women in Lal Chowk

No toilets for women in Lal Chowk
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Doctors warns against delaying urination for adverse health implications

Mohsina Yaseen

SRINAGAR: Hundreds of women commute or walk through Srinagar’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk, for shopping or going to offices, but what always lies at the back of their minds is what measures are available to them if they have to use the washroom. This thought either stops them from moving around or forces them into inconvenient hurry.
In the busiest city streets, most lavatories have been shut or abandoned because their unsanitary conditions make them inaccessible for use.
Rafia, who works as a cashier in a local restaurant in Lal Chowk, expressed satisfaction that her workplace has a clean toilet but complains about the lack of public washrooms. “Things are much easier for me as my office has a clean and hygienic washroom, both for staff and customers.
“It’s a blessing about my job that it doesn’t bring me to face any kind of embarrassing situation. Nowadays there is an increase in the number of women working, so there should be adequate washrooms provided in every market for them,” she said.
Similarly, Shahnaza, another working woman, narrated her ordeal of travelling through the city’s busiest market.
According to her, she does not prefer to visit any public facilities as they lack privacy, whether they are clean or unhygienic.
“I can’t imagine going to a washroom which has a common entrance for men and women. We are living in a society where complete silence is being observed over the needs of women,” she added.
Students of the Government Women’s College, which falls in the commercial hub, said they feel it hard to find a decent public washroom. Above 2,000 women students are enrolled in the college.
A student, Bisma, questioned why it is near impossible to find a hygienic lavatory in Srinagar.
“Isn’t it possible for women to urinate in a hygienic and dignified place? It may be hard for us to hold nature’s call, but it’s harder to find any decent place during our monthly cycles,” the student said.
But holding urine for a long time is no solution, cautions SMHS Hospital gynaecologist Dr Anjum, as it can have severe effects on women’s health.
According to the doctor, holding urine can lead to loss of bladder control and an accumulation of bacteria in the urinary tract.
A more serious problem occurs during the monthly cycles, she said.
“During monthly cycles, sanitary pads are to be changed frequently; if they are not changed, it can cause fungal infection, urinary tract infection and also skin rashes,” she told Kashmir Reader.
“Apart from these infections, there are higher chances of reproductive tract infections. The main reason for the growing number of infertility cases among Kashmiri women is poor hygiene,” the doctor added.
At Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Chief Sanitation Officer Sofi Akbar admitted to the lack of public washrooms but held out an assurance that the civil body is constructing 13 out of 75 washrooms for women.
“More than 80 spots within the municipal limits have been identified for the establishment of toilets. The construction of some has finished, and we are waiting for the contractors to hand over the keys to us,” Akbar told Kashmir Reader.
“In our first phase, we have to finish the construction of new proposed toilet blocks and in the second phase, we will have to renovate the old ones,” he added.
Also, he admitted the problem of a single entrance to washrooms inconveniencing women. For this, he said the newly constructed lavatories will have separate entrances.

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