Safety or Surveillance? Timers Installed in Women's Toilets at China UNESCO Heritage Site

The Yungang Grottoes, a significant attraction in northern China's Shanxi province, welcomed 3 million visitors to its ancient Buddhist temples carved into the rockface in 2023.
Timers in toilet

Safety or Surveillance? Timers Installed in Women's Toilets at China UNESCO Heritage Site

Photo : Twitter
New Delhi: China has placed timers above the cubicles in the women's toilets at a UNESCO World Heritage site, allowing visitors to track their 'engagement' duration. The Yungang Grottoes, a significant attraction in northern China's Shanxi province, welcomed 3 million visitors to its ancient Buddhist temples carved into the rockface in 2023.
Recently, a video shared with the local Chinese news outlet, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald, revealed that the 1500-year-old site has installed digital timers above each stall in the female bathrooms.
When a stall is unoccupied, the small display screen reads the word 'empty' in green. However, when in use, it shows the number of minutes and seconds the person has been inside, displayed in red. One visitor described the experience as 'embarrassing,' feeling as if they were being 'monitored.'
“I found it quite advanced technologically so you don't have to queue outside or knock on a bathroom door. But I also found it a little bit embarrassing. It felt like I was being monitored,” a visiter told the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald.
A staff member at the attraction informed the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald that the timers were installed to manage the increased number of visitors but emphasized they weren't meant to impose limits.
“They aren’t there to control the durations you could use the bathrooms,” they clarified. “It’s impossible that we would kick someone out [of the bathroom stall] midway. And we aren’t setting a time limit, such as five or 10 minutes, of how long one could use the toilets.”
Another staff member, quoted by the Nanchang Evening News, mentioned that the timers were installed on May 1 for safety reasons. They also added that the timers were intended to indicate if a guest had been in there for an extended period due to an emergency.
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