Civic Party calls for more female toilets
Dennis Chong and Ng Kang-chung
Sexual inequality found in public toilets in Hong Kong remains a serious problem unbefitting Hong Kong's reputation as an international city, the Civic Party said yesterday.
The opinion came from a recent study that found the availability of female toilet facilities in public premises to be roughly similar to those for men, causing long queues in places such as cinemas and shopping malls.
The party said that in developed areas such as the United States, Japan and Taiwan, because women generally stay twice as long in the toilet than men, women need twice as many toilet facilities.
Party legislator Mandy Tam Heung-man said: 'Hong Kong, as an international city, should not allow this problem to persist.'
Under current law, the numbers of urinals and water closets provided in places such as cinemas or restaurants are roughly equal between the genders.
In response to public pressure, the government issued new guidelines in 2005 that assumed that the gender ratio of visitors to public toilet facilities was five women to four men.
A Development Bureau spokesman said last night it was considering the need for a revised law on toilet facilities. He added that so far 20 new construction projects had already adopted the 2005 guidelines.
Simon Wong Shun-Yin, the party's community developer, said the imbalance often caused embarrassment. He said that during a party activity outdoors, some female participants resorted to using male toilets out of desperation. Robert Wu Hing-kee, another party member who was involved in the study, said that there used to be similar problems in the United States. But he added a number of local governments had enacted new laws in ensuring a two-to-one ratio of female facilities to male ones.
Miss Tam suggested that shopping malls could solve the problem by converting male toilets to female toilets.
She also said the government should set out a clear time frame to address the issue.
According to the study conducted by the Civic Party, the shopping mall at One International Finance Centre had the lowest female-to-male ratio - 27 to 20, or 1.35 to 1. When male urinals were taken into account, the ratio became 0.57 to 1. IFC management could not be reached for comment yesterday.