And if you can’t squat?

Image description: overhead shot of porcelain squat toilet.

I’ve been traveling this week in China, thanking my lucky stars that my back has been well enough for me to manage the toilets.

In China, the typical toilet is a squat toilet. Not of course in the western style hotel rooms but certainly in most of the restaurants and in most of the university buildings I’ve had meetings in. In a public toilet with multiple stalls, there may be one stall with a regular toilet. Maybe. Not always. And the rest are squats.

When I faced the same in India recently it was more an “aesthetic” thing. I am accustomed to a regular toilet and squatting just isn’t my thing. I know, I know –apparently in many ways squatting is better for digestion, a more effective position.

But this time I’m aware of just how much physical agility it requires to squat to pee. You need to be able to plant your feet and lower yourself down without losing your balance. Pee. Wipe (assuming there is toilet paper or that you remembered to grab some from the communal dispenser on the wall out by the sinks or that you have your own as I always do). Then stand back up again without assistance and without losing your balance. Two weeks ago I’d have been completely unable.

For me it was temporary. I have no idea what people with knee issues or back issues or in wheel chairs or with other sorts of mobility issues do. Almost all of the squat toilet stalls have at least one step to get up to them (I don’t quite know why this is). None of the many I’ve been in this week has had a hand rail that would be useful for getting back up.

It’s a real issue. And not just aesthetic. And it makes me appreciate that at least for now I can manage because being able to use a toilet when out and about is one of the more important necessities of basic living.

I have not asked around about what people do if they have mobility issues and whether this is considered an equity issue. If it’s not, it should be, even if squatting is a more natural position for this sort of thing. It’s not available to all.

I usually end with a question but I’m not about to interrogate our readers about their squat toilet experiences!

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