A feminist writer has lambasted claims from a Hackney police officer who said women were the ‘worst’ culprits for urinating in the streets.
Emilia Bona, feminist writer and blogger, expressed her dismay at Mark Page’s comments to the Hackney Gazette about “drunk women”, branding them “sexist and unfair”.
She told ELL: “It seems to be a rather sweeping generalisation to suggest that women are more commonly responsible for public urination than men – I would be interested in seeing the statistics to support such a claim.
“The focus on women urinating in public may be more of a result of our natural aversion to seeing women doing things that are considered ‘unladylike’ in comparison to men subtly urinating against a wall in public.
“These gendered standards for public behaviour may have some bearing on the shock expressed in the comments about women being the ‘worst culprits’ when it comes to urinating in the street.”
Page made his comments in response to recent figures that showed that fines issued for public urination in Hackney have tripled in the last 12 months.
The warden from Hackney’s night-time economy told the Hackney Gazette that he sees women urinating in the street more often than men.
He said: “Drunk women are the worst. We had one woman who was drunk and with her friends. There’s a paramedic who works with us – he turned up in his Volvo estate.
“He sat her on the tailgate and she decides to then drop everything and urinate in the back of the car.”
Page was contacted by ELL for comment but had not yet responded at the time of publishing.
Caroline Sellman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement told ELL that the council have issued more than 800 fines for public urination in the last 12 months which averages out at 15 fines per week.
“We spend £100,000 each year washing urine off walls and pavements because people urinate in Hackney’s streets and on residents’ doorsteps,” she told ELL.
The council said the issue was “a real problem that many of our residents are all too aware of”, and that they were ensuring that wardens were issuing a greater number of fines to deter offenders.
Last year Hackney council announced they would be piloting two “pee-back” walls at popular drinking destinations in the Shoreditch and Dalston areas, at a cost of £1,000.
The liquid-repelling coating is designed to make urine splash back at the offender, preventing the urine from soaking into the wall, and also reduce stains and smells.
The council claims that although the number of fines issued at the sites in question have fallen slightly, the general problem of public urination in the borough is on-going.
Sellman told ELL: “We know it’s not the whole solution, but it is part of our strategy that includes making people more aware of the problem, businesses playing their part by letting people use their toilets, and more public toilets and fines.”
Bona said: “Access to clean, safe and free public toilets in the evening is an issue for every gender and something lacking in London.”
Though the council boasts that their newly refurbished public toilets have been “designed to the highest standards”, only two out of seven sets of the toilets are open to the public 24 hours a day, located at Dalston Passage and Kingsland Waste.