A click for a cleaner & safer India
In big apartment buildings or lavish mansions, you may see them beautifully tucked away in corners. In exotic hotels, you may seem them decked up like brides. Like them or hate them, you cannot ignore them. Toilets are as essential as air or water or food now. Gone are the days when defecating in the open among bushes in groups was as normal as having a community dinner. Now toilets have more than sanitation. They have become a part of our lives to the extent that most of us take them for granted as if they were always a part of the planet.
But do we realize that one-third of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to sanitation facilities? Currently, 2.5 billion people -- a third of the world's population -- do not have access to sanitary toilets or latrines. Just over 1 billion of them have no facilities at all and have to go out in the open. That so many people in the so called third world countries of the world who struggle to make both ends meet don’t even consider toilets as a normal part of things that they can expect to get like food or shelter? That people, especially women, struggle to defecate in ungodly hours so that they can maintain a tiny bit of dignity that they can keep for themselves. In this post, I wish to talk about the World Toilet Day which is a little known phenomenon in India and emphasized this highly critical aspect of our lives.
The World Toilet Day, which has been held on Nov. 19 since 2001, hopes to increase awareness about the need for basic sanitation and to teach people about better practices. The founders say: "World Toilet Day has a serious purpose: it aims to stimulate dialogue about sanitation and break the taboo that still surrounds this issue. In addition, it supports advocacy that highlights the profound impact of the sanitation crisis in a rigorous manner, and seeks to bring to the forefront the health and emotional consequences, as well as the economic impact of inadequate sanitation."
Lack of sanitation has many dangerous repercussions. They affect drinking water, cause water borne diseases, lower immune systems and cause large scale damage to health and economy.
But there is another side to this issue and that is even more worrying. In many places in India, toilets are considered ‘dirty’ and hence people don’t want them inside their houses! Based on orthodox and illogical reasons based on religion, caste, culture and dogmas, people force themselves to walk for miles to go to toilets when they can easily have this basic necessity within their reach! While men can still manage to live within these illogical rules and customs, it is the women who suffer the most. They have to go early mornings just because they are the symbols of their family’s prestige and esteem, while their men sleep peacefully without giving heed to such sensitive issues. This issue becomes more pronounced during menstrual cycles when women are even more vulnerable. Such age-old and blind practices need to be put to an end with awareness educational programs.
Factors like global health, education, women's safety and social cannot be ignored any more. They need to come to the forefront for every government, whether national or state level. Those among us who are privileged to have this advantage should pitch in to raise our voices for those who are denied this basic right. Thanks to Domex for bringing up this important cause out in the open!