Open defecation is a huge problem in the developing world. But in India, this problem has reached alarming levels. From diseases & conditions like typhoid, malaria, measles, cholera and others to rapes and sexual assaults on women, open defecation is impacting our society in a big way. More than 600 million people (about half our population) defecate openly in India every day. So why is this the case? Let’s check it out.
One of the main problems is the lack of toilets. More than 60% of the population in rural areas and about 9-10% of the population in urban areas doesn’t have access to toilets. It seems such an irony that while we have grown by leaps and bounds with respect to technology, fashion and the likes, we are still way behind in terms of sanitation. And this is where the policy of the government to make India free from open defecation is quite noteworthy.
A lot of corporates have agreed to the clarion call made by the PM to build more toilets. Consider the example of the Domex Toilet Academy which has been set up by HUL and they aim to build more than 24000 toilets by 2015 along with helping promote cleanliness and good hygiene. That’s a great initiative to start with.
Secondly and more importantly, based on recent studies, a behavioral and societal change needs to be brought about wherein people need to be encouraged to use the toilets rather than defecate out in the open.
Whether it’s about cleaning toilets (in certain areas it’s still considered a work of the untouchables), the smell, the absence of water or even the cost of constructing it, toilets are not really considered very important when building a house. And even if many have toilets in their respective homes, not all use them. Therefore it becomes doubly important to create awareness on why good hygiene must be maintained.
These days everyone is making all the right noises about improving women safety. But do we realize the problems and tensions women face while going out at night or during dawn to defecate out in the open?
For example, consider the situation of a girl like Babli who is just 14 years old. She knows that she can go out to defecate only in the dark. Though she’s scared, she has no other option but to walk slowly and carefully keeping her eyes and ears open while defecating. For years she has seen women in her village do that while going out to defecate. But even though they have been careful, there have been many instances when the women were sexually assaulted when they went out. Her parents are scared but can’t do a thing since they cannot afford to build a toilet.
The above example highlights the situation many women in our country face day in and day out. Along with this, there is also the problem of contracting diseases as people come in contact with various germs, micro-organisms and the likes. India has one of the highest rates of stunting and malnutrition in children due to open defecation.
So do you want to be a part of the initiative to make India free from open defecation?
All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.