Open defecation - a major breeding ground for rapes

Open defecation - a major breeding ground for rapes

Statistics reveal that in Bihar, which is one of India’s poorest states, around 85% of the rural households do not have access to a toilet. Even generally speaking, isn't that alarming enough? To spare a thought about the women in particular makes the picture even uglier! What plight they must be subjected to, every day of their daily life, when they go out to defecate in the open. It does not simply end at that: there’s something worse-these women often become victims of rape.

There have been more than 900 cases of rapes reported in Bihar last year, out of which many such catastrophes have occurred due to lack of access to basic sanitation to a major section of the Indian population. They do not enjoy the “facilities” of flush toilets and latrines, which is actually a basic amenity. The worst tragedy of our country, or perhaps, the world is that while such gruesome instances of violation of a human being occurs rampantly, people still shy away from even mentioning the word “defecation” or discussing such an issue in public. A joint report by UNICEF and WHO has brought to light that more than 1.1 billion people in the world practice open defecation, out of which the majority belongs to the Indian populace. It is followed by Indonesia, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Not only are women subjected to day-to-day humiliation and risks, but also stand chances of facing something much more disastrous.

What’s worse, in countries such as Pakistan, where women and girls do not have proper facilities for sanitation, they defecate in the open only at night so as to adhere to their strict societal norms, which put them at further risk of violence and abuse, including rape. Moving out of our comfort zones and familiar territories, we need to open our eyes to the fact that not all women crowd into discotheques and pubs, there are beelines of women in the not-so-urbanized parts of our country who defecate in the dark so that they are not stared at. Pitiably enough, staring is not even a cause of concern, they are rather plagued by far graver issues of stalking and rape. Many women in the rural parts of India have already borne the brunt of this social malady while they were on their way to defecate and were taken advantage of, in the darkness of evenings & emptiness of the surroundings.

This issue demands immediate attention as this results in not only a loss of dignity for so many girls and women but can also leave them ill due to various forms of contamination, leave alone the chances of rape. The government should take prompt measures and remedial actions to redress this menacing thing so that women in all parts of India have access to proper, clean toilets, so that the “worrisome trend” that has been witnessed can be brought to an end. According to a BBC report carried out in May 2013, a senior police official had reportedly stated that such cases happen every month in Bihar, adding that about 400 women could have “escaped” rape last year if they had toilets in their homes. This is enough to motivate the society as a whole to do the needful in this direction, so that not even one more woman is meted out to such a lowly practice.

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