“It was 4:30am and I was ready to step out of the house. I was just waiting for the street light in the corner to be turned off and the moment it did, I took off. I fully covered myself from head to toe, made sure no one could see me or see what I was carrying with me and hurried myself into the bushes. This isn’t the only day I had to do this. This has become my daily routine – my daily routine of humiliation which also at times turned into harassment. But I’ve no choice and this is the only way to relieve myself” – This unfortunately is not the story of just one woman instead a majority of the women, for India is home to almost 600 million of the 1 billion world population who openly defecate, based on a UN study.
Government is well aware of this alarming situation. The recent slogan of “Toilets over temples” for example is the latest in its efforts to do something about it. First the UPA and then the NDA is stressing the need for prioritizing building toilets over the temples. But building toilets alone is not enough. According to the government Baseline Survey of 2013, about 20.7% of the existing toilets are defunct. Jharkhand leads the pack with 66% while Chattisgarh has 59% defunct toilets. Goa, Odisha & Sikkim do not have a single defunct toilet as per the survey. Below is the complete list.
|S.No||State/UT||Percentage of Defunct Toilets|
|1||A & N ISLANDS||3.26|
|11||JAMMU & KASHMIR||10.12|
Efforts must be put to build the behavior, build the attitude and build a culture where basic sanitation becomes the norm not the exception.
Only when that happens, we can expect the
- Toilets to be used for what they are meant for and not converted into store rooms
- Girl child to finish her school since lack of toilets is the single most reason for dropping out of the school
- Women to live with dignity not with embarrassment
- Children not to die of communicable diseases
- Pregnant Women to give birth to healthy kids
- Public toilets to be made accessible and safe
For all this to happen, toilets must be considered as holy as the religious places themselves.
Data Source: Answer to Lok Sabha Un-starred Question No.788 , reply on 27-11-2014