Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Bangkok have been forced to use adult nappies as a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks. With congestion worsening, conductors on Thailand's sprawling capital's ageing buses spend long days on the polluted roads in the tropical heat, often with no toilet stops along the route.
When she developed a urinary tract infection, Watcharee Viriya had little choice but to start wearing adult nappies to cope with the many hours away from the restroom.
"It was uncomfortable when I moved, especially when I urinated inside," she recalled.
"When I arrived at the bus terminal, I had to run to get changed. I used at least two nappies a day."
She was later diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and needed to undergo surgery.
"The doctor told me that it was because of wearing dirty nappies and the substances from them going into the uterus."
Watcharee is not alone in opting for such an extreme answer to a lack of toilet breaks: a recent survey found that 28 percent of female bus conductors in Bangkok had worn nappies on a job that requires them to work up to 16 hours a day.
"We were shocked," said Jaded Chouwilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation which carried out the research.
"We also found that many of them suffer urinary tract infections and stones in their bladders," he said.
"Many of the female bus conductors also have uterus cancer."
Now Bangkok's bus conductors and unionists are starting to speak out to demand better working conditions.
"Their working conditions are not good," said Chutima Boonjai, secretary of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority labour union, who has asked for more toilets to be placed along bus routes or in bus terminals.
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