Monday 16 September 2019

Toilet rights for women? Dutch woman fights fine for peeing in public

A ‘curl’ urinal in Amsterdam. Photo: BMA via Wikimedia Commons

A 23-year-old Dutch woman will appear in court on Monday to fight against a fine for urinating in a public place.

Geerte Piening was fined €140 after she was caught urinating between the Balie debating centre and ABN Amro bank on Amsterdam’s Leidseplein 2.5 years ago after a night out.

It was late, cafes and bars were closed and, Piening says, she had no choice. Her friends, keeping watch, spotted the three police officers approaching but, says Piening, she could not stop.

‘One of them asked me what I was doing,’ she told the AD. ‘It seemed pretty obvious to me. At the time I did not feel like getting into a discussion but the next day I thought ‘you know what, I am going to fight this’.’

Her decision to challenge the fine has turned into a cause celebre. ‘It has become a massive feminist issue, and that was not really what I was after,’ Piening told the AD.‘On the other hand, it is about time the issue was raised. It is embarrassing that there is nowhere for women to go.’

In central Amsterdam there are 35 public urinals for men and just four public toilets for women, according to the Parool.

‘It is much better organised in other Europe cities,’ Piening says.

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