‘Occupy Restrooms’ protest turns fatal

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BY DU QISHI
Health Correspondent

Public bathroom – or death trap? For many, it’s a bit of both

GUANGZHOU (China Daily Show) – A group of female sophomores – angered at conditions in their campus restrooms – suffered a setback yesterday, after three of their members died during a protest.

“‘Occupy Restrooms’ was never going to end well,” shrugged local police chief Xi Zheng. “This tragedy could have been prevented if more men had been consulted.”

At least six female students began to suffocate during a proposed four-day movement in the male lavatories at Guangzhou Number 4 HGV Training University this week.

The “Occupy Restrooms” protesters, a nod to the anti-Wall Street group, are complaining that long queues for female toilets are unfair. But, as of yesterday, waiting for a slash was the least of their worries.

Campaign organizer Wang Yu, 19, and five others succumbed to flatus eighteen minutes into their heavily publicized squat-in. Officers eventually dragged them to safety but three later died.

The incident brings the total number of deaths in Chinese toilets this year to 189. With the country facing growing water shortages, local governments have been instructed to take a ‘hands-off’ policy towards cleaning public bathrooms.

Critics point out that maintaining appalling hygiene is a costly business. Surplus methane gas from factory farming has to be pumped in via concealed vents, animal corpses smeared on walls weekly and floors must be doused several times a day with ammonia and menstrual blood.

But economists point out that not cleaning restrooms also frees up enormous quantities of caustic chemical fluids, which can be used in China’s food and beverage industry.

To drive the message home, a national-level campaign has been mounted to discourage people from using public bathrooms. “Take a step backwards; then another. Now walk out the door,” reads one, while another simply asks: “What’s wrong with the gutter?” Several public hospitals are even offering a free set of anal stitches with selected childbirths.

The campaign is aimed at diverting funds to the “shocking shortcomings” in facilities provided for public officials. Shi Xiaobian, an expert, said that China’s government buildings lag behind those of Japan in terms of providing safe, comfortable, computer-assisted bowel relief to the elite.

“Some visiting officials are being denied the lavender soap when they visit provincial-level buildings,” he said. “This has to change.”

Last year, one senior offical reported that a malfunctioning bidet caused him to miss the turtle course at an important banquet. Another is even suing his own department, claiming that a lack of quilted two-ply in the handicapped bathroom had had disastrous consequences for his silk long johns.

But there was some good news, Shi added: a rural campaign to promote shitting in the street had “gone viral.”

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