Friday, April 13, 2018

Perspective: Fight over restrooms is part of larger social issue | Syed Sajid Ahmad


With all the physical and ideological differences among us, we all end up as human beings after all. Mutual respect and honor and sacrifice for each member of us should lead to a harmonious and equitable society.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: In Forum
By Syed Sajid Ahmad | April 12, 2018

I grew up in Pakistan and lived there until the early part of 1974. Back then, most of my travel was by rail or bus. Railway stations had furnished restrooms where travelers could sit down on chairs or lie down on benches and rest while waiting for their trains. Toilettes were located separately.

I arrived in the U.S. the first time in 1976 to get married and take my wife with me to Africa. I got off the plane at the JFK airport. I called my hosts, and they asked me to wait at the airport. I was tired from a long journey and in need of a quiet place to sit down to rest. I looked around and saw a "restrooms" sign. I entered in anticipation of resting there, but was quite confused seeing people standing facing the walls. It was then I realized restrooms were toilettes here.

Wherever I've gone over the last 40 years in the U.S., I've always noticed larger lines outside women's restrooms than outside men's—at airports, malls, schools, office buildings, places of worship and even restaurants. I am sure that architects who design these facilities, the investors who sponsor them, and the cities that approve the designs have all seen this disparity as well. Everyone at some point must have realized there is a need to provide larger facilities for women than men, but somehow the problem persists.

At the Miami Book Fair one year, I noticed a long line outside the women's restroom. As I entered the men's room, a woman rushed out of one of men's stalls and dashed out keeping her eyes low. The wait outside the women's restroom was probably too long for her. She could have been arrested, but she obviously did not have any other choice than to steal a visit to men's restroom.

There is not sufficient, conscientious effort on the part of parties involved to help our beloved mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, and support them and resolve this problem.

Can we really expect much sympathy for women in the midst of recent stories about the harassment of women?

The general issue of bathroom disparity and the issue of transgender bathrooms, they're part of the larger dilemma of very well-known rights disparities among genders such as unequal pay at work, disproportionate advancement at work, abuse at home, sexual harassment at work, single mothers, child custody battles, and so on. These are issues that can be taken care of by conscientious individuals and groups themselves without the involvement and intervention of government.

With all the physical and ideological differences among us, we all end up as human beings after all. Mutual respect and honor and sacrifice for each member of us should lead to a harmonious and equitable society.

Ahmad is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages. He has translated, compiled and co-authored “A Gift for the Queen,” “Points to Ponder,” “Why Islam is my choice” and “Words of Wisdom.” He lives in Fargo and can be reached at syedsajidahmad@yahoo.com



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