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It's the little things: Toilets seen as tool against rape in India

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
9/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Indoor toilets will limit opportunities for attackers to prey on women at most vulnerable

When it comes to civilization, it's the little things. In the drive to get more indoor toilets throughout India in order to combat open defecation, these toilets are also being seen as a valuable tool against rape. Indoor toilets will help protect countless Indian women who would otherwise be preyed upon by attackers who would strike when they are most vulnerable.

The toilets were installed by Sulabh International, a New Delhi-based non-governmental organization focused on sanitation issues among India's poor. Bindeshwar Pathak, the group's founder unveiled the toilets in a ceremony before local officials and villagers.

The toilets were installed by Sulabh International, a New Delhi-based non-governmental organization focused on sanitation issues among India's poor. Bindeshwar Pathak, the group's founder unveiled the toilets in a ceremony before local officials and villagers.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
9/2/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Fush toilets, rape, India, privacy, open defecation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With no traditional toilets in rural Indian villages, women are often forced to relieve themselves in the surrounding fields. While darkness provides a shield from prying eyes, it also proves a cover for rapists. Two teenaged girls who had ventured in Upper Pradesh State to use the toilet were found raped and murdered, in a case that made international headlines.

Activists say that the tragedy is an opportunity to change the lives of millions of women across India. A national non-governmental organization completed the installation of 108 toilets in the village.

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Before the toilet was installed, one elderly villager said she would wake up in the middle of the night to accompany each of her four daughters and a daughter-in-law to relieve themselves in what she calls the "open skies toilet" surrounding the village. "I am feeling happy and safer now,"

The toilets were installed by Sulabh International, a New Delhi-based non-governmental organization focused on sanitation issues among India's poor. Bindeshwar Pathak, the group's founder unveiled the toilets in a ceremony before local officials and villagers.

Pathak said in an interview that the lack of toilets in villages such as Katra Saadatgunj makes it easier for perpetrators to commit rape against women who wait until nightfall to defecate.

"This has a huge impact on women's freedom," he said. May's brutal killings, he says. The incident should serve as a wake-up call in a country where, according to UNICEF, 594 million people-almost half the population-practices open defecation.

The investigation into the deaths of the two girls remains unresolved. Local police initially arrested five men suspected of rape and murder, but have yet to lay charges against the men, raising the possibility that they may soon be released on bail.

The girls' family now has access to a new toilet provided by Sulabh. The girls' grandmother, says it can never make up for their loss. "We have got toilets now, but what use are these to us after my girls are gone?" she says.

India plans to provide toilets for 800 million people by 2019.

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