A set of public toilets are the latest topic of debate in Camden, London, with some describing the move for women to share them with men as “utter madness”
Image: My London WS)
Women trying to access public toilets have been told to share lavatories with men – prompting protests that they feel unsafe doing so.
A campaign to persuade Camden Town Hall, in London, to provide women with their own toilets has been set up, but the council insists they need more money to repair the broken men’s toilets near the Tube station.
Consequently, due to this budget shortfall the women’s has become a gender-neutral space, at the end of the Parkway, located by the Tube, while the men’s loos are closed.
Historically, the women’s toilets were built following a campaign to offer a convenient space for females, which was backed by the Pygmalion author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw.
My London WS)
Speaking to Camden New Journal , Susan Williams, who lives in Hampstead, said: “I was trying to go to work and was bursting for a wee. I realized the loos were gender-neutral and I went in anyway because it was there or the kerb. They were smelly, horrible and intimidating.”
She added: “I didn’t feel safe in there, I would never have gone in if I wasn’t bursting. If one does feel threatened, it’s difficult to get out from underground.”
Whilst Ms Williams does not disagree with the notion of gender-neutral toilets, she said “there should be some for women-only too”.
Ideally, the men’s toilets would be gender-neutral, and women’s to be kept for women-only, she said.
When Camden Town councilor Richard Cotton first raised the issue a year ago, he was told the men’s toilets had closed for social distancing reasons due to the pandemic.
However, just a few weeks ago, he asked why they were still closed, and was told urgent repairs were needed – but the council lacked the budget to pay for them.
He said: “I think it’s very worrying that this is subject to budgeting. If there is money for other things, there should be money for this. It’s crucial that women have their own toilets.
“Those loos were campaigned for and opened by none other than George Bernard Shaw. We were the first borough to have women-only loos, it would be pretty crazy if we were then the first borough to do away with them.”
He added: “I’m going to keep the pressure on about this. It’s a matter of safety and privacy. I’m not sure how I would feel about one of my children having to have her de ella first period in a toilet with men or boys.
Another anonymous Camden resident complained that “the council have been promoting they’re putting money towards VAWG, doing all these token things but they won’t open ladies’ loos, we need them for safety and privacy”.
She added: “They’re not hearing us. I know a few people have written to the council, and it’s just not good enough. The council as a priority, need to find the funds – they need to be single-sex, it’s putting women at risk.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “For now a single block of toilets are open to all.
“Public men’s only and women’s only toilets are available nearby at the Crowndale Center and Camden Market.
“Camden Council’s public toilets are there for the convenience of our community and for visitors to the borough.
“We are constantly looking at our facilities to make sure that they are of a high standard and to ensure that anyone who uses them feels safe.”