News & Campaigns
Public health experts are calling for fair provision of public toilets for women, saying the aim should be to have two female loos to every male one.
With more urinals than cubicles, men – unlike women – rarely queue, a Royal Society for Public Health report says.
It blames the closure of hundreds of council-run toilets for deterring some people from leaving the house.
The government said it was down to councils to manage their resources and provide necessary services for people.
The Royal Society’s report says that people with health problems or a disability are most affected by the lack of public conveniences.
It adds that public toilets “should be considered as essential as streetlights, roads and waste collection”.
But it said the lack of facilities in the UK was affecting equality, mobility, fitness and other aspects of health – yet no-one wanted to pay for them.
In a survey of more than 2,000 adults for the report, two in five people with a medical condition requiring frequent trips to the toilet, said they didn’t feel able to go out as often as they wanted because of “loo leash”.
In some US states and Canada, attempts have been made to introduce “potty parity” legislation to reflect the longer amount of time women need when using the toilet.
A BBC map of public toilet provision in 2018 found there were 4,486 run by major councils in the UK, down from 5,159 in 2010.
And in 37 council areas, there were no public toilets provided at all.
The standard ratio of female to male toilets in the UK is 1:1 but because of higher numbers of urinals in male toilets, this is rarely achieved, the Royal Society says.
Part of a longer news report at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48367242
- Download the report https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/healthy-places/taking-the-p.html
Girls across the UK are struggling with verbal abuse, bullying and a feeling of shame around their periods, with many of those affected suffering in silence, according to a new survey by Plan International UK released to coincide with Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019. This follows the UK Government’s announcement that Plan International UK will co-chair its new period poverty taskforce.
The poll of 1,000 UK girls aged 14 – 21 reveals that one in five (20 per cent) have experienced teasing or bullying around their periods, with only half (49 per cent) telling anyone about it. Two thirds (67 per cent) of teasing and bullying takes place in school, while 1 in 10 girls (9 per cent) say it is happening to them online.
Overall, nearly six in ten (57 per cent) have experienced negative comments of some kind connected with their period, including:
- Comments about being dirty or disgusting (10 per cent)
- Comments making them feel ashamed or uncomfortable (14 per cent)
- Comments about their perceived mood or behaviour (36 per cent)
- Comments about leaking (18 per cent)
- Comments or teasing around sanitary wear (15 per cent)
In addition to impacting on girls’ confidence and self-esteem, period stigma can have a direct impact on their schooling. Two thirds of girls (66 per cent) report missing a part day or full day of school because of their period, with commonly cited reasons including concerns about leaking (39 per cent), anxiety about their period (28 per cent) and embarrassment (19 per cent). 40 per cent of those who had missed school report struggling to catch up on school work as a result.
These negative feelings around periods are entrenched in girls from when they first start their periods; nearly half of girls (49 per cent) say they felt anxious when they first started; one third felt embarrassed (35 per cent) while three in ten (30 per cent) report feeling frightened.
As part of its efforts to smash the stigma and make periods an everyday subject, Plan International UK is hosting a public event for Menstrual Hygiene Day on London’s South Bank. Throughout the day, members of the public will compete head-to-head on stationary bicycles to finish the ‘menstrual cycle’ course, with visual displays designed to raise awareness and encourage conversation.
Part of a longer press release at https://plan-uk.org/media-centre/one-in-five-uk-girls-teased-or-bullied-because-of-their-period-new-survey-finds
Several universities have been criticised both for the way they investigate and punish those responsible for sex assaults and sexually derogatory messages, and the support they offer victims.
The University of Essex has been accused of “silencing” students who made sex assault complaints.
While the university aims to deal with complaints within 60 day, it took a year it to deal with several cases, and some students have complained about its handling of their reports. It has now apologised to students for the delays.
A Freedom of Information request lodged by student journalist Kafui Okpattah found four cases in which the university said: “The complainant did not wish to take the matter to the police.”
But three students said they now regret not going to the police before alerting the university.
The same male student had been named in four separate complaints made between May and November 2018, the BBC has found.
But three of these allegations – two serious sexual assaults and one of sharing an indecent photograph – have still not had a misconduct hearing.
The apology from the University of Essex comes after a new documentary about the Warwick rape chat scandal has aired on BBC Three.
The university has never apologised personally to the women, though in a statement released in response to the BBC documentary, Professor Croft said the university wants to “apologise for any part we played in causing distress to members of our community.”
The university’s handling of the case has prompted many students and academics to ask what went so wrong at Warwick.
In February, a student at the University of Sheffield was placed under investigation for “describing women in derogatory sexual terms”, The Independent reported.
At the time, Sheffield Students’ Union’s Feminist Society called for universities to respond more quickly to support students affected by “rape culture, which is what this is”.
Society president Emily Doyland added: “Sheffield needs to look closely at how it will vocally support the students affected and take this as an opportunity to reform their sexual consent education – we need signposting of existing services and a genuine political will to deal with lad culture.”
Extract from a longer report at https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/news/universities-under-fire-for-their-handling-of-sex-assault-complaints
The report includes data on religions with a significant presence in England and Wales, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Christian faith communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Methodists, and Islam and Judaism.
The report’s key findings include:
- Those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in the same institution.
- Over half of survivors did not report the abuse due to feelings of shame (37 per cent) and guilt (18 per cent).
- Half of victims (48 per cent) knew of others being abused by the same perpetrator.
- One fifth (18 percent) of survivors reported a loss of faith as a consequence of the abuse.
The report also examines institutional failures, with most participants firmly believing others were aware of the perpetrator’s behaviour but did nothing. Sexual abuse was most frequently perpetrated by an individual with an official religious title, such as priest, vicar, imam or elder.
At the Truth Project, survivors are invited to make recommendations for change. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral.
The Inquiry is also publishing a further 60 anonymous accounts shared with its Truth Project, which has now welcomed more than 3,000 participants.
Meanwhile, a new investigation into safeguarding in religion was launched earlier this month.
Part of a longer press release at https://www.iicsa.org.uk/news/shame-and-guilt-stop-survivors-reporting-child-sexual-abuse-religious-institutions