Why the right to pee is a human right - and yet it is not

As seen in a recent case on Twitter, lack of an 'appropriate' place to pee can lead people to lose track of reason.

 |  4-minute read |   07-01-2020
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A full bladder, with no place to empty it, is an underestimated problem. A bladder, sending the human mind signals that it's time to empty it, can overshadow everything else that matters or should matter.

You could be in the middle of an intense foreplay, you could be on stage to receive an award you have worked your a** off for, you could be watching a thriller with so many twists and turns that even the distraction of a second could ruin the story for you, but if your bladder decides it has more water than it can hold, you got to put everything else on hold and rush to the washroom.

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The longer the delay in reaching the restroom, the more distracted you are from the world and more focused on finding a place to pee. It's not without reason that passing off urine is called relieving yourself. 'Relieve yourself' is not merely a euphemism for peeing. It is the genuine feeling of getting rid of the unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling of a filled bladder.

At the cost of digression, let's take a minute to thank the person who coined the expression.

Now, remember that in India not everybody pees 'everywhere'.

And before you begin to thank Narendra Modi for raising awareness about not urinating or defecating in the open, hold your praises. We mean, ya, that too. But what we actually mean is that the rich and privileged do not (or at least don't want to) pee in public toilets.

So what happens when they can't find a place to 'relieve themselves' and when their internal sphincter, a type of muscular valve that helps prevent urine from leaking out, threatens that it has had enough?

There is irritability and loss of focus. Okay, it happens to the poor and the less privileged too. But first let's deal with a real first-world problem.

As seen in a recent case on Twitter, the lack of an 'appropriate' place to pee can lead people to lose track of reason.

Sonia Mariam Thomas seemingly lost her association with reason upon finding that Mumbai's Taj Hotel wouldn't allow her to use their restroom. This is not to underestimate Thomas's problem. We have been there. We get her.

The problem actually lies in Thomas's insistence on only using the Taj restroom and not a public one because "not all public restrooms are sanitary and will cause more harm than help".

Truth be told, Taj restrooms are sanitary because they are not open to public. We are public, we know how we treat our public toilets or how our fellow members of the public dirty them.

No, people going to Taj may not necessarily have better toilet manners. Money doesn't buy manners. Not even Mastercard does.

Thomas believes Taj's denial is an infringement of her human rights because according to her, "It is a human right to be able to use a washroom and ask for water from an establishment."

This is a unique document of human rights ratified by absolutely nobody.

This document of human rights notwithstanding, Taj Hotels has a right to not open their doors for a group of protesters when it is public knowledge that protests have been turning violent.

We are not getting into who is instigating the violence. We have a more important issue at hand here. Without addressing which, no protest, no instigation to violence, or no violence itself can happen. Peeing.

The Taj has a right to not open the doors for people who are not its customers, but for the moment, imagine protesters gathering outside premium hotels and restaurants starting to demand water and restrooms. Then they stay a little longer and start demanding food. In Delhi's cold, people who have rushed to protest spots without adequately layering themselves, can then start demanding jackets and blankets because, well, keeping yourself warm is a human right too.

All water must be Bisleri water and all jackets and blankets must be branded because ordinary ones can "cause more harm than help".

You haven't really lived a life of privileges if you can still make out the difference between need, want and desire.

Amid the protests for someone's right to be recognised as a citizen of her own country, amid an agitation for right to protest peacefully, amid the demands for peaceful campuses, someone's demand for a seven-star toilet is just an example of the obfuscation of the boundaries of what one needs, what one wants and what one desires or demands.

Also read: Decency in protests has trumped the parochialism of the Modi regime

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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