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With Tampons and Concrete, Vandals Hit Paris Urinals Seen as Sexist

Chris Blache, a founder of a think tank that works on gender and city planning, said she did not believe the city had set out to discriminate. But, she said, the street urinals sent an unintentional signal that women had fewer rights in public spaces than men.

“This kind of urinal, clearly, can only be used by men — and not any kind of man either, because a child, a little boy can’t use them,” Ms. Blache. “And I’m not sure that an elderly man would be comfortable using them either. So there is an unfairness in the perception of what is authorized or not authorized to do in public.”

She said that while men had “very broad” freedom to do as they pleased, women were “constantly being called to order” on their attitude or their clothing in public. Just this week, she noted, the French tennis player Alizé Cornet was assessed a code violation at the United States Open for briefly removing her top, violating a rule that does not exist for men.

Like other major cities, Paris has struggled for years with public urination. With varying success, city officials have experimented with ways to discourage people from relieving themselves on the street. These include mirrors intended to shame offenders, and hydrophobic paint that bounces urine back onto their shoes.

The city has also made public urination a civil offense and has a dedicated force of agents who seek out people who degrade public spaces by urinating or by other means, like throwing cigarette butts on the ground. In 2017, more than 5,300 fines of up to 68 euros, or nearly $ 80, were handed out for public urination, about double the figure from the previous year, according to city statistics.

City officials point out that Paris has roughly 450 unisex bathrooms, 150 of them open day and night, far outnumbering the urinals deployed this spring and summer.

Olivier Fraisseix, the head of sanitation and water management at the Paris City Hall, defended the urinals, saying they were only one of many experiments the city was trying. Public urination, he said, “is invariably one of the main issues mentioned by Parisians when you ask them about cleanliness.”

Source: NYT > World

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