When Prime Minister Modi, speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort, stressed the need for proper sanitation and talked about building toilets, many felt uncomfortable at how “inappropriate” the stage was.
But can they refute the reality of open defecation in India?
Can they deny that women in our country are still forced to defecate out in the open?
Can they honestly say that the dignity of an Indian woman is being upheld when she has to step out late at night or in the early hours of dawn to relieve herself?
Women have carried this mantle of discomfort for decades, silently.
According to WHO and UNICEF studies, almost 48% of urban and 65% of the rural population defecate in the open.
Almost 300 million women in India have no access to basic sanitation facilities, running a risk of various gynaecological and urinary problems. That’s as many as 1-in-3 women.
A national survey conducted by AC Nielsen and NGO Plan India in 2012 found that 23% girls drop out of school after reaching puberty.
Young girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are missing 5 days of school every month during their menstrual cycle because schools can’t afford to build toilets.
A senior police official in Bihar has said that 400 women would have “escaped” rape last year if they had toilets in their homes.
These women face the threat of snakebites, unhygienic conditions, diarrhea and violence. Every single day.
Problems which can be fixed. Just by building a toilet.
Source: Hindu BusinessLine
This is where we need to step in.
Because the people have grown complacent, the practice of open-defecation has become a norm and our continued silence on the issue just makes matters worse.
We need to take up awareness projects, fund programmes for building sanitation facilities and make the people understand the ill-effects of open-defecation.
And the people over at Sanifresh are already doing their bit, one toilet at a time.
They plan to construct separate toilets for girls in schools as well as community toilets in villages for women.
Besides having initiated awareness campaigns about the health risks associated with open defecation, they plan to use their sales proceeds to build and maintain toilets in model villages.