Right To A Toilet : A question of women's health, safety and dignity
Today is World Toilet Day. In 2001 the World Toilet Organization ( WTO) declared its founding day, 19th November, as World Toilet Day. According to the organization, World Toilet Day was created to raise "global awareness of the struggle of 2.6 billion face every day without access to proper, clean sanitation". This day raises alarm on global sanitation crisis and urges both behavior and policy changes on issues ranging from effective water management to ending open air defecation.
In July 2012, Our Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation termed India - the world's capital for open defecation. More than half of our population and 70 % of women lack access to a toilet. As a result, girls and women from urban and rural slums are forced to practice open defecation leaving them vulnerable to sexual harassment, humiliation and even rape. In addition to the security issue, women face hazardous health risks which contribute to diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
In India's capital, New Delhi, the problem is worse with a staggering 56% of children living in slums and unauthorized colonies defecating in the open due to lack of community toilets. With nowhere to go, young girls and women are forced to use unhygienic and unsafe facilities like open fields increasing their vulnerability to violence. Due to the entrenched cultural norms that devalue women and deny them a voice, the authorities have been able to turn a blind eye to their complaints of sexual violence. This lack of support often discourages women from reporting such incidents to the police or authority, especially when the shame of experiencing violence is coupled with the indignity of the incident happening while going to the toilet.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness regarding this under reported issue, of the role of toilets in reducing the risk of violence against women. The challenge is to motivate and pressurize the local authorities to provide safe sanitation facilities for all especially for low income households living in the slums.
Recently, on my visit to one of the urban slums of West Delhi, I interviewed few women to find out for myself how lack of toilets is affecting them both physically and psychologically. I decided to make a short video slide on this to draw attention to an extremely important yet under reported issue in India. My video is intended to motivate dialogue and discussions among the communities and force the local authorities to take effective action and offer suggestions for women to demand their right to safe and secure sanitation.
Watch my VIDEO Link here : Right To A Toilet : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70YcCIRXFvc&feature=youtu.be