Women and children in Bengaluru now have a safe place to go to whenever they have to attend nature’s call. In what can only be termed as a landmark move, the city’s hotels have been directed by the BBMP hoteliers’ association to open their loos to women and children. The civic body’s decision takes effect on Wednesday, May 3.

The BBMP’s decision is inspired by what South Delhi did a few days ago. Chandrashekar Hebbar, President of the hoteliers' association said this is an effort to protect women’s dignity and is in the same spirit as the Centre’s initiative to build a clean India, Bangalore Mirror reported.  

To be sure, women in Bengaluru don’t have easy access to public toilets and those that belong to lower economic strata are forced to defecate in the open. In many cases, women are often unprotected, assaulted and feel threatened. Public spaces in India make men feel safe and privileged while women battle harassment on the streets.

This initiative guarantees a safe haven for women across all economic backgrounds. However, hoteliers are on the fence about letting the public use their toilets.

While they seem to agree with the BBMP’s move in principle, their concerns range from cleanliness to overhead costs. For instance, one hotel manager said that the public will be allowed to use toilets that are outside the hotel’s premises, reported Bangalore Mirror.

And their concern doesn’t end here. Hotel managers claimed that they’d have to employ additional staff to clean the toilets and this could add to more expense. Nevertheless, they agreed that they rarely deny the public to use their toilet in any case.

The city’s restaurants have welcomed the BBMP’s directive in spirit and have stated that they respect women’s dignity. But their willingness to afford public spaces to women of all economic backgrounds will be tested when the initiative takes effect and if it becomes a rule. Bengaluru’s hotels could champion women’s rights but the question is, are they determined enough to do it?