While the privacy of toilets is something we take for granted, a large part of the Indian population still does not have this basic amenity. And it is this very issue that has drawn the women of a backward tribe to come forward and stage a protest. On Tuesday morning, around 250 of women of the Kanjara community, hailing from Vishnupura village of Bah tehsil in Agra district, joined a massive protest outside a local police station. Their demand is very simple. They want the government to construct toilets in their area, so that they are saved the embarrassment of defecating in the open.
A protester, Sunita said to TOI, “We cannot live a disgraceful life anymore. Every day we have to face embarrassment. We came across advertisement by the government to provide toilets to the poor, but till date not a single home in Vishnupura has any help from government.”
The women, who stood and protested for around three hours are aware of the government’s initiative, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and cannot get their head around the fact that nothing has been done in their village as per this scheme.
“Even after so many years of independence, our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are forced to open defecate. No one can imagine the embarrassment we face on a daily basis,” said 45-year-old Lata, “In fact, this village is not even a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhyian scheme. How will they construct toilets if these villages are not even registered yet under the scheme?”
“Every day we see posters and hear from radio that government will provide Rs 12,000 to poor families who are not capable to develop their own toilet, but I don’t know how come we have not been given a single penny for it”, said another protester, Indu.
In case you are still wondering about the magnitude of the problem, here is are some quick facts:
- Around some 130 million households in India lack toilets.
- 70% of Indians living in villages defecate in the open and women especially get affected by lacking access to toilets. That is where many rapes occur. Remember the rape and murder of two Badaun sisters in 2014 who had left their homes to relieve themselves outside?
- India accounts for nearly 600 million of the 1 billion people in the world who have no toilets.
- 67% of all Hindu households, rural and urban, practice open defecation, compared with 42% of Muslims.
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