Squatting versus sitting in Latin America - and Wikipedia article on squat toilets

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Squatting versus sitting in Latin America - and Wikipedia article on squat toilets

Note by moderator: a related thread about squatting and sitting is available here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/141-ot...-colon-healthy-lifeq


+++++++

I was going to e-mail Chris & Chris (Canaday/Platzer) about this question but then I thought I might as well put it on the forum:
How wide-spread are squatting toilets in Latin America and South America from your experience (or from what you have read?).

The reason why I am asking is Wikipedia: I was editing an article on squatting toilets and another editor asked the question what is a fair statement about their prevalence in South America:

You find this statement ( en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Toilet#Squat_toilets ):

Squatting toilets are most commonly found in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East but can also occasionally be found in some European (Romania, France), Mediterranean, and South American countries.


And this statement which is what I am suggesting ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squat_toilet ):

Squat toilets are commonly found in Asia, Middle East, South America, North Africa, some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and to some extent in Southern Europe, although they are getting less common there. Squat toilets are not common in Central and Northern Europe, North America, Japan, Australia.


I wonder what a fair statement would be about South America. If someone happens to have a reference at their finger tips about the prevalence of squatting toilets in different countries, I would be happy to hear about that, too.

I guess one may have to differentiate because squatting toilets in public areas are more common than squatting toilets in households. I will never forget my suprise as a child when visiting a caravan park in France and seeing a squatting toilet for the first time in my life thinking "what kind of toilet is this??". Not sure if they are still common in Franch for caravan parks but I have never seen them in France at hotels, offices, museums, private homes. Then again I haven't been to Southern France yet, only the centre (Paris), North and East.

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Elisabeth

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

From my current experience in Chile, Peru and Bolivia I would say they are extremely rare to non existant (except maybe the hole in the ground type of pit latrines, but I am not sure if these count).
Came across a (sadly overloaded and thus quite smelly) UDDT in a really rural tourist resort in southern Bolivia yesterday though ;)

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Thanks for this info. I guess we would have to take into consideration also the "hole in the ground type of pit latrines" as squatting toilets, wouldn't we? Are they common? Probably hard to estimate.

Unless perhaps we'd say of all flush toilets that are in Chile, Peru and Bolivia, a negligible proportion is of the squatting type. Perhaps that would be a more accurate statement then?

Some photos of that overloaded UDDT? ;-) (in a separate thread)

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Someone send me a snapshot (see attachment) on the merits and de-merits of squatting in natural and unnatural way (I'm using the terms from the snapshot). In Pakistan, natural squatting is preferred. Unnatural posture is used when there are problems, like over-weight, bulging belly, problems in knee joints, etc.

While the English WCs (as in the snapshot) and Indian WCs are used in Pakistan, for religious considerations, Indian WCs are preferred, as while doing the "business," the water in seal splashes the body parts.

F H Mughal

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Hi,

I have never seen organized, presentable toilets for squatting in South America, aside from the UDDTs I build (inodoroseco.blogspot.com). Squatting is, however, standard for open defecation out in the woods or in a make-shift pit latrine with a wooden floor that has a drop hole cut into the middle of it.

Squatting is nonetheless superior:
-- less need to strain, thus fewer hemorhoids
-- everything comes out easier, thus less constipation
-- elimination is normally more complete, thus the colon gets a rest
-- no one needs to touch anything with their private parts, thus more hygienic
-- the floor is the same height for everyone, thus more accessible to little children
-- the user can see where everything is going and there is more distance, thus better urine diversion
-- no need for a bench, thus easier and less expensive to build

The health benefits accumulate over time.
It is key (especially for westerners) to have a handle to hold on to for equilibrium.

(Tangent) One curious thing that I have seen, when I went to build UDDTs in the Pantanal of Brazil, is the huge selection of super luxurious flush toilet bowls in Brazil, orders of magnitude beyond anything I have ever seen in the USA, Canada, Finland, or anywhere else I have ever been. One looked like a Roman column. This was in Cuiabá, which is a big, modern city, even though one may presume it would be a bit provincial, out in Mato Grosso. Someone is clearly obsessed with the flush toilet.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday

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Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Thank you Mughal, Kris and Chris for responding to my question about how wide-spread squatting toilets are in South America.

Based on your answers, I have now modified the statement in the Wikipedia article on squat toilets ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squat_toilet ) like this:

Regions[edit source | edit]
Squat toilets are commonly found in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East but can also occasionally be found in some European (Romania, Southern France), Mediterranean, and Latin and South American countries. Squat toilets are not common in Central and Northern Europe, North America, Australia.

In Latin and South America, squat toilets that use water for flushing (flush toilets) are always of the sitting type, whereas toilets that do not use water for flushing (pit latrines and urine-diverting dry toilets) may be of either type, i.e. to be used in a sitting or a squatting position.


Does that sound OK?

Can anyone provide me information on the prevalance of squatting for other regions or any publications that could be cited which have analysed this?

Chris, regarding the health aspects, I have added a short bit on that as well:

Health aspects[edit source | edit]
Main article: Defecation postures
The use of squat toilets may have certain health benefits with respect to colon health as the defecation posture of squatting my result in less straining.[citation needed][1]


The main article where this is being discussed is actually the one on "defecation postures" ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defecation_postures ). This one could clearly benefit from someone's watchful eye and editing work. If you have good references to support your bullet point list that you provided above then this could also be added into the article. Especially the points about health aspects can only be added if there are good quality sources to back that up.

Emma, perhaps that book that you mentioned above could be utilised as a source for the health benefits of squatting (although it would be better to have an English source, not a German one).

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Dear Elisabeth,

Perhaps, you may like to add this:

Religious considerations also impacts the preference for, and choice of, squat toilets.

after

In Latin and South America, squat toilets that use water for flushing (flush toilets) are always of the sitting type, whereas toilets that do not use water for flushing (pit latrines and urine-diverting dry toilets) may be of either type, i.e. to be used in a sitting or a squatting position.

Cheers,

F H Mughal

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

That's an interesting point. However, I think we would need to explain it better (more details). Should we say that in most Muslim and Hindu cultures people tend to squat rather than sit on the toilet? However, is that really due to religion (like do the writings mention anything?) or is it rather due to general cultural preferences? Or is anal washing with water more likely to be connected to squatting toilets? Are we observing a change in culture though, e.g. are there more sitting toilets appearing in Pakistan, are they also being regarded as "more modern" like in other parts of the world?

I know e.g. in Morocco, which is also a Muslim country, all the toilets I have ever been to in the major cities (Rabat, Casablanca) were of the sitting type, even though people do practise anal cleansing with water there. In the rural areas of Morocco, I believe that squatting is more common but I have no data on that.

I have the suspicion that the sitting versus squatting issue is more related to regions of the world and perhaps some climate aspects rather than religious aspects? If I remember right, Lucas Dengel (or was it Paul Culvert?) from India once told me that in India people of all faiths practise anal cleansing with water (also Christians), and they do use mostly squatting toilets there (mind you, in hotels and restaurants in Delhi I found only sitting toilets but perhaps that's catering for Westerners, I am not sure).

There is by the way this article on Islamic toilet etiquette on Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_toilet_etiquette

Would you (or anyone else who is well versed in Islam) say the article is correct? It doesn't mention anything about squatting versus sitting.

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

I don't think it is necessary to go in great details, simply for the reason that the comments made, are not "water-tight." While, I still stand by my point of religious preferences, differences may be found here and there.

In Makkah and Madinah, where I have been to 5 times, all the toilets in Masjid-e-Haram (the Grand Mosque) in Makkah; and in Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madinah have squat toilets (as shown in your first figure) - and these toilets run in thousands!. One may ask, why it is so. The answer is that of religious considerations. In sitting toilets, there are chances of splashing - and this is not allowed in Islam.

Having said that, there are many toilets in Pakistan of sitting type. There are two-fold reasons: one, obese people, or people with medical problems in knees, or having back pain, cannot use the squatting posture. They are comfortable with sitting postures. Doctors also advise that. One way to avoid splashing is to put few tissue papers in the WC - this preventing splashing. The other option is to clean that splashed part with water.

Those who do not practice Islam in strict sense, do not care about the types of postures. And, as you say, here also, in high-class hotels, they all have sitting toilets, to cater for the needs of western visitors.

So, just mention the one sentence I stated in my earlier post (if you feel like). That sentence, by and large, covers the point, I'm trying to say.

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F H Mughal

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  • emmanuelkas2004
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Re: Squatting vs. sitting

Squatting toilets are hard find in the western world, but very common in African countries they are health in terms of communal use and don't easily spread the diseases where as Sitting toilets are more relaxing they help you do services very well, friendly for the old people and disabled people.But not good for the community especially with different background.one can easily acquire fungal infections and other related infections more especially women with a big opening valve!

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  • Carol McCreary
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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Having lived thirty years in nations with primarily Muslim populations, I've seen and used a variety of types sitting and squatting toilets designed for washing.

In our Baghdad house we had porcelain thrones with small upwardly-bent pipes right inside the bowl through which we deployed warm water from a faucet handle on the wall. I don't have a photo and wonder if anyone can provide details on the plumbing. The only disadvantage of this system is that it does not easily accommodate wipers, as the toilet paper gets hung up on small pipe and requires manual removal.

In Tunisia, a metre-long flexible hose is hung on the wall attached to the warm and cold mix faucet and deployed by the user. Our houses in Pakistan generally offered both squatting and sitting toilets, served in both cases by a "lota' or pitcher, which users can fill, to the desired temperature where hot water is available.

In the old city of Sana'a, Yemen, I've used the traditional top story desiccating toilets where excreta falls outside the building through the bone dry air into a small pit on the ground. Squatting, of course, with a container of wash water carried up from below. Our own single storey mud brick house, however, had the contemporary plumbed flush pedestal toilets which have put quite a burden on the city's depleted aquifer.

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Re: squat for money - The Squatty Potty - "healthy colon - healthy life" (product from the US)

Thanks Carol for your contribution, Regarding Baghdad potable toilet.They are washed and and emptied every after 5 five hours then add chemical to kill the germ and stop the smell. They have a cover that you sit on and when you move up it goes back up. With all the effort they put to have them clean, soldiers and non combatant roll toilet paper around the hole before they sit on to use. Sometimes when you throw the output...the water bounces back to your Ass that can be nasty.I have used it before for for 3 year while in Baghdad. But our latrines in the village are dug over 45 feet down..Apart from squatting for a long time.. they are the most effective i would recommend than even flushing toilets in terms of hygiene

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