Squat toilets in Rochdale shopping centre

Image caption,
The squat toilet is rarely seen or used in Britain

Special squatting toilets have been installed in a Greater Manchester shopping centre after its bosses went on a cultural awareness course.

Rochdale Exchange Centre has introduced the "holes in the ground" otherwise known as Nile pans.

Ghulham Rasul Shazhad, who gave the course, said there was a large Muslim Asian community in Rochdale who preferred to use the squat toilet.

Two of the 14 toilets have been converted to nile pans.

Mr Shazhad said: "I identified a need in the community as there were a lot of empty water bottles found by the Western public toilets in Rochdale.

"In the Muslim culture we prefer to use water after relieving ourselves which is used with the squat style toilets.

"In local mosques there are usually six or seven nile pans alongside just one or two Western toilets.

"When I explained this to shopping centre bosses on my cultural course we thought it would be a good idea to introduce these in Rochdale."

Lavatorial invention

Squat toilets are used in many parts of Asia and parts of Europe.

They are not often seen in the UK - which has a strong heritage of pioneering lavatorial invention.

Thomas Crapper patented the flushing toilet - with a seat - in the early 1800s and ensured its widespread use, but it was Sir John Harrington who first invented the mechanics of it three centuries earlier.

Khan Moghul, from Manchester Council for Community Relation, agreed with Mr Shazhad.

He said: "It is a very good idea and I have no problem with it.

"it just shows that the people of Greater Manchester are becoming more cosmopolitan and global-minded.

"There are also public urinals in the centre of Piccadilly Garden - these don't necessarily fit with the perception of the British toilet as they're definitely more European."

A spokeswoman for the centre said: "It is just about doing what any business would do.

"If there had been a decision to provide only eastern European toilets I would really have expected some sort of backlash.

"They are trying to meet the needs of the community they serve and this is part of it.

"They came up with the idea, it would be really good to provide toilet facilities that were desirable by that particular part of the community."

The new toilets, one for women and one for men, will open next week.

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