I, too, wrinkled my brow when I saw the article and asked myself, “World Toilet Day?” It being that I am connected to a UN guy by love and marriage and the Internet, sometimes unusual topics come across my news feeds. Today, at least by UN General Assembly decree, is the day when one should give pause to sanitation conditions worldwide.
No, I was not asked to write, nor am I being compensated for, this post. I just found the topic interesting.
Vienna was a pioneer in public sanitation, so it stands to reason there might be a few culturally-protected water closets (WCs) in the Imperial City. For a mere €0,70 one can conduct their affairs in a safe, clean and musical environment at the Vienna Opera Toilet. (Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz plays on repeat). Yes, that is correct. In most of Europe one must pay to use a public WC, and trust me, the pocket change is (usually) worth it (Rome and Budapest, I’m looking at you…). Generally, the only persons who warrant complimentary access to the WC are expectant moms. I know this from the week I spent in Prague when I was 7-months expectant with Anna Grace. I was often ushered to the front of the queue, if there was one, and never was asked to pay.
While shopping along the high-end Inner Stadt pedestrian lane of Graben, another culturally important and oh-so-clean WC is at the ready. This one is but €0,50.
And over at the Hundertwasser Haus, there is the Toilet of Modern Art.
Throughout our travels we have encountered WCs from the very technical (our house in Kyoto)…
… to the low-floor “squatter” (Japan, Romania, and yes, even Venice!)
In my neighborhood, and scattered inconsistently across the city there are “Pissoirs.” There are more elaborate designs around the city, but really, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Why a World Toilet Day? One in three persons worldwide lacks safe sanitation conditions. In rural areas lacking safe access to public facilities, girls and women are assaulted and raped when using open and unsecured facilities at night. Millions of girls annually drop out of school because of the lack of private toilet facilities near classrooms. Open defecation contaminates water supplies. I needn’t continue.
If only all cultures had toilets to protect.