Monday, 8 June 2009

Squat Toilets – Where Can They Still Be Found?

Squat toilets are relatively unknown in the Western world. But they are commonplace in many other parts of the world. There is a surprisingly a large number of countries and cultures in Asia, the Middle East and Africa where squatting toilets have always been a part and parcel of daily life.

The locations where squat toilets easily outnumber sitting toilets include the two most populous countries in the world today: China with a population of 1.3 billion and India, with a population of 1.1 billion. In fact, two thirds of humanity (about 4 billion) still uses the squatting position for bodily functions. Less than one third – mostly people in the Westernised countries - uses the seated posture.

In addition to Asia, Middle East and Africa, there are many regions in the world where squatting toilets can still be found. These include a number of European and Mediterranean countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, the Balkans and Greece. Squat toilets can also be found in Russia and many countries in South America.

They may not be exactly prevalent in some of the countries mentioned, but squat toilets do exist in many public areas, buildings and homes. Visitors may or may not encounter them in the newer or more developed areas of these countries. But you move away and go out to the more rural areas, you would find that squat toilets are quite common and widely used.

Most of the world’s toilets, however, are largely concentrated in Asia. Countries like China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Of course, we must not forget countries in the Middle East and Africa. The peoples of these countries and continent have traditionally been using squat toilets since the beginning of time. Countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Mauritius, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, Zimbabwe.



As a result of increased Western influence, sitting toilets are now making huge inroads even in countries which have a cultural tradition of squat toilets. Nowadays, too many people are giving up - by choice or circumstances beyond their control - squatting toilets for sitting ones. Few, if any, would switch from sitting to squatting types.


Design of Squat Toilets

If you think about it, a squat toilet is nothing more than a hole in the ground. But different races and cultures have their own ideas and interpretations. Many of them have created their own designs and versions to suit their needs and lifestyles.

For example, Turkey has two kinds of squat toilets -- ground level squat toilets known as alaturka. They also have pedestal squat toilets called alafranga that has specially-designed foot rests that allows the user to squat on it at the height of a typical sitting toilet.

The Japanese have a squat toilet that has a unique shape with the user facing the toilet and flush device while his or her back is to the door of the stall.

There is a Thai version which is somewhat of a different design in that it is a squat toilet, but has a bowl that is spiral shaped.

While we have covered squatting toilets used in the "developed" areas of the world, there are specific locations where indigenous tribes or native peoples use some rudimentary version of 'squat toilets'. The toilets are often in the form of a squat style outhouse which does not come with running water or modern plumbing.

Squat or Sit – A Question of Cultural Conditioning

Whether a person uses a squat toilet or a sitting toilet is not always be a matter of choice or based on health considerations. In reality, for many, toileting posture is a culturally ingrained practice decided at birth.

This explains why Westerners would experience quite a culture shock when coming face to face with a squat toilet for the very first time. (It doesn't help that most Westerners have lost the capability to squat easily and comfortably.)

It also explains why some people who love squatting court danger by balancing and squatting precariously on top of a sitting toilet. Or why some would do whatever necessary in order to squat - even to the extent of constructing a metal platform over their sitting toilet!

Does It Really Matter Whether You Squat or Sit?

The type of toilet used by a person is much a cultural choice, one that is often based on tradition. But in reality, there is a big difference between a squat type and a sitting type.

The sitting toilet may look more attractive to the eye, but it is an ergonomic nightmare. By forcing users to sit instead of squat, the sitting toilet makes it physically impossible to achieve complete waste elimination.

Unknown to many, the sitting toilet has also been linked to several colon, bladder, prostate and pelvic health problems. You can visit this toilet-related ailments website for more information on the specific ailments and diseases that have been linked to sitting toilets, and also why squat toilets are better than sitting toilets.

Written by David Ling, Singapore, Website:

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