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Are flush toilets with privacy a human right?

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posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 04:19 PM
While some may scoff at the issue of private toilets, its connection to human rights has caused some significant debate on what constitutes "torture":

It should be noted that torture is a somewhat fluid concept. ... A study of communist interrogation techniques during the Korean War notes that many American prisoners of the Chinese Communists regarded the prison diet, and particularly the fact that they were expected to relieve themselves publicly during brief, specific periods, as "feindish tortures". However, as Hinkle and Wolff point out in "Communist interrogation and indoctrination of Enemies of the States", 'Open latrines and public defecation are the custom in rural China, and they do not seem to be regarded as unpleasant by the Chinese.' (cited from: Kathleen Taylor: "Brainwashing: The science of thought control". Oxford UP, 2004, pp. 90-91)

More recently in South Africa we've had the Khayelitsha toilet saga.
What basically happened is that squatters (mostly from the traditional black rural areas) were promised provisional toilets. In 2007 the Western Cape government allegedly consulted the specific community of 1 316 people. They could either get the national amount of 5 households per enclosed toilet, or one toilet for which they would build their own enclosures. The community opted for building their own enclosures around the toilet for each house. Only 55 had not done so.
This year the political storm broke, after pictures were shown in the press of residents using open air toilets.
The radicals and human rights activists were outraged (although private flush toilets were not a traditional feature of African culture).
The administration in Cape Town then attempted to erect metal structures around the toilets. (One should remember that they are working with severe budget constraints, with over a thousand immigrants from within SA and elsewhere arriving in the city every month.) The ANC Youth League then tore down the metal structures, and demanded brick and mortar enclosures. The city then removed the toilets, although communal blocks remain. The saga continues.

It leaves general questions however. Water is limited and may be even more so with global warming. So, should flush toilets be a human right, even where sewage works can hardly support their expansion? Should tribal peoples and those who pay lip service to their "great way of life" choose modern flush toilets? Perhaps the really eco-friendly should consider communal, or other alternatives.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Thanks for the thread!

I'll address your later point.

Water is limited and may be even more so with global warming. So, should flush toilets be a human right, even where sewage works can hardly support their expansion? Should tribal peoples and those who pay lip service to their "great way of life" choose modern flush toilets?

I think this depends on priorities. I would much rather have water saved for drinking and the sort rather than private toilets and flushing. If it comes to where we need water for things used for survival, than I will gladly give up the use of private toilets.

Kind regards

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 04:58 PM
reply to post by Hitotsumami

What is most upsetting is that I've seen comfortable, functional toilets with earthworm tanks, and cheap bricks made from hemp or marijuana. But everything new in a largely developing place like SA has to be on the grid. Granted, the "New Age technology" does have drawbacks, and is currently very expensive.
But honestly, by all accounts our global resources are stretched, and instead of alternatives we keep milking an empty well, and convince more and more people that Western custom is equal to a good life and human rights.

[edit on 29-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 05:02 PM
Until I was ten we had an outhouse in the backyard. When we got running water the well they dug turned sulfur. My father converted one of the smaller upstairs bedrooms into our bathroom. For a bathroom it was huge. People all around town admired us because we had such a huge bathroom.We still used the outhouse till 1980. It was nice in the summer, you could sit there with door open. It faced out into a field so nobody could see anything. In winter my mother and sisters used a chamber pot. Us guys had to brave the cold. I like a private bathroom. I miss the old outhouse, though.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 05:23 PM
I guess so.. but let's worry about getting every human some clean water, food, safe shelter and clothing first. These are things that every human should have and are more important than "flush toilets with privacy".

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 05:26 PM
reply to post by alonzo730

Oh that must have romantic - a loo with a lovely nature view!

Well, what is an issue is that toilets are seen as a hallmark of the most basic humanity, so anybody who cannot provide them is "racist" and underming a basic human right.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 05:28 PM
I've always found silly the notion that something that requires a modern industrial civilization to produce can be a natural right.

I'm with the ol' US Founders on this: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Everything else is a luxury.

Actually, not even really that. Everybody's gotta die someday. Let each find his own way.

[edit on 29-6-2010 by NewlyAwakened]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 05:31 PM
Well a good chunk of the world operates without a private toilet at their disposal. My opinion is that it's a huge waste of resources to treat the water we use for toilets. We could catch rain water for that and fill up the tanks, or even use seawater. That alone would save a ton of potable water.

As for it being a human right? It wasn't even an option what, a century or so ago? If we don't have the resources, we don't have the resources. Rights are subjective.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:00 PM
On the other hand, how many people would feel comfortable with toilets that lack privacy?
I suppose flush toilets are a health issue, but privacy is not.
Perhaps the issue has to do with that people who were denied private sanitation became the "other" - mad people, sick people, kindergarten children or prisoners.
So when political parties in former non-Westernized countries promise the poor modernization, they have to promise the "normal level" of middle class practice - otherwise they associate their voters with a Western subaltern.

[edit on 29-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:16 PM
Flush toilets a human right.....

It's far more involved than supplying a water supply. There has to be a waste water system in place. It could be something as simple as septic tank and leechate field or a full blown sewage collection system. Even a holding tank has to be dumped somewhere and you need the proper equipment to do this for health issues.

To have this "right", someone has to maintain the system or operate the treatment plants, depending on what is in place. This requires a way to compensate the person(s) doing the work. Usually taxes or usage fees are imposed for water and sewage. Not everyone can afford this service.

Many many parts of the world have problems with fresh, running water. Now throw a pollution issue into the mix and you would soon have significant health issues.

Flush toilets are not so much a human right as it is a health issue.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:24 PM
I have no desire to have another human watch me poop, nor do I want to watch another human take a poop. While a flush toilet may be a luxury that some can not afford, I think I would still want the privacy.

While I am not really ashamed of the human body and I can understand that everyone has to go, it isn't pleasant. I wouldn't want someone watching me and I would not want to watch someone.

Even in a disaster situation, hygiene and sanitation are important. If there are little options in how to dispose of waste with water, then I guess the best thing to do would be dig a hole far away from drinking water sources, and using that and then filling in the hole.

In the case of a jail, detention center, or other type of confinement, well, I would at least hope for privacy or at least segregation. I wouldn't mind going to the bathroom with other women around. I guess I don't fear other women.

I think men have to fear other men more than women have to fear other women.

Men may do things to other men. I don't know how often a women will sexually assault another women. It probably does happen though.

[edit on 29-6-2010 by jessieg]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:25 PM
I don't know how it is now, but when I was in the Marine Corps in the middle of the last century, the heads did not have stalls. Don't even get me started about Vietnam. I can't ever remember thinking that that was torture.

It wasn't until I was stationed aboard a Navy base that I ever saw a head with stalls.

Obviously, there's more to the story than mere privacy.

[edit on 2010/6/29 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:39 PM
reply to post by hinky

In SA, especially rural areas have great problems with sewage running in the streets. We have people withholding rate money until they get acceptable services, and others rioting in the townships, because the government has not fulfilled its promises on sanitation.
The problem has been made worse with Affrimative Action policies and the brain-drain of engineers. It is a huge mess.
Everything is kinda on hold until the World Cup is over, but some major questions are going to be asked.
In SA only a minority of about 6 million pay full rates and taxes, and they carry over 35 000 000 others, who are too poor to pay, or carry on an ANC inspired culture of non-payment (they do pay VAT, but few township dwellers have moral issues with illegally connecting electricity, for example).

Some whites have wondered why crapping in the bush is suddenly such a big deal for blacks: pre-1994 white men did forced military service, and they had to use trucks with open holes - and nobody called that racist or against human rights.
Although it's a dicey argument, it seems that Western culture is despised, unless it offers comfort and technology. So there is double-speak on both sides of the argument.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:42 PM
No I don't believe it is a human right. It is moral but I wouldn't say it's a human right.

At my high-school during my freshmen year the school took out the doors on the stalls in the boys bathrooms because to many people were doing illegal activities.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:45 PM
While although it is the City's resposibility to provide proper sewage disposal and drainage.

when is it their responsibility to provide bathroom's and more importantly, the " privacy" to use them ??

If people want to use open air toilet's and don't have a problem with it, Let Them !! Like the article stated, toilet's are not traditional in Africa.

If anyone's been to Jail, you have no choice but to get over the embarrasment. Your basicaly stuck in there with 8 guys and one toilet.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:52 PM
reply to post by jessieg

Thanks for bringing up this vital issue:

Men may do things to other men. I don't know how often a women will sexually assault another women. It probably does happen though.

One of the main perceived reasons for the outrage in Khayelitsha (see my OP) is the vulnerability of women and children, especially after dark in high crime areas.
All kinds of outsiders have now pounced on the case, but some people in such areas feel that enclosures make them even unsafer.
It has happened that women are pushed into enclosures and raped.
Privacy can also quickly become a prison.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:58 PM
reply to post by IntastellaBurst

You highlight once again the problematic concept that citizens of a democracy should be happy with prison conditions.
That is part of the crux.
If everyone was happy with prison conditions, then having a prison (and a fearful respect for the law) would totally lose its meaning.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 06:59 PM
This is ridiculous.

How can we even be discussing water shortages when there are 7 massive oceans + tons of seas surrounding us?

All we gotta do is desalinize it... full time job of the future?

Also, you have NO RIGHTS to determine if other people should have a toilet, if it should be enclosed, or whatever.

It's not any one's business except to choose it for yourself.

Trying to mandate toilets for everyone, or enclosed/open air or whatever, is a abomination of fascism and pushing your beliefs on others through the force of a violent government.

It's way out of bounds.

Worry about your own toilet habits, and let every one else worry about theirs.

Nothing more infuriating than having people discuss the toilet habits of others, and then discuss ways to improve it.

Something stinks around here and it isn't the open air toilets...

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 07:08 PM
reply to post by muzzleflash

The issue of sanitation goes beyond personal concern in many developing countries.
We have massive townships around every town and city where people are living without basic sanitation. By now, with or without toilets, much of the waste is running into our streams, rivers and oceans.
The ANC in 1994 called the "bucket system" in the townships (where municipal trucks would collect waste from buckets) dehumanizing and against human rights.
Forgiveness if not everybody lives in a country where it is not a political issue.
Please see:

[edit on 29-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 07:36 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Interesting thinking about prisons, which as government institutions must uphold a certain minimum of standards, at least in SA.
The problem is that it's fair to say that SA has a majority population outside prisons, who are living worse than people inside prisons.

That certainly doesn't mean our prisons are great places to be (far from it), but a roof, meals and sanitation (at least with the modesty of a same-sex environment) are more than most people have.
Now that is very problematic.

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