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Protests planned at Amsterdam urinals over lack of women's toilets

Category: Gender in the world 

Protests are being planned at urinals across Amsterdam over the lack of female public toilet facilities after a judge criticised a woman for not using public male toilets after getting caught short on the streets of the city.

Geerte Piening, 23, was fined after she asked her friends to cover for her as she urinated off a street on a night out in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein district.

Amsterdam has 35 public urinals for men and only three public toilets for women. It was past the closing time of local bars, and Piening was a couple of kilometres from the nearest women’s toilet facilities.

Piening decided to fight the charges in court, only to be criticised by the judge who said that despite the lack of toilets available for women she should have made use of the facilities made available to men.

“It would not be pleasant but it can be done,” the judge told her.

The case has provoked a public debate about the attitudes taken to men and women on evenings out. An initial protest planned at the place where she was discovered by police officers has been cancelled because of overwhelming interest, with too many people wanting to attend.

Organisers are instead asking those interested, said to be nearly 10,000 women, to gather at urinals across Amsterdam on Friday.

Cathelijne Hornstra, who put out a call on Facebook, said 1,100 women had said they would attend the protest and another 7,900 were interested in attending. “The overwhelming interest means we have grown too big,” she said. “We can’t fit all the women who said they would come on that one spot.”

Women are being urged to carry out mini protests at urinals throughout the city on Friday and upload photos to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #wildplassen, the Dutch word for the offence commited by Piening.

Piening said: “It has become a massive feminist issue, and that was not really what I was after. On the other hand, it is about time the issue was raised. It is embarrassing that there is nowhere for women to go.”




Tags: Amsterdam public urinals woman

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