I was ten years old when I once visited Rajasthan with my family, staying with the locals near the famous temple of Goddess Kaila Devi, Karauli. Getting up early in the morning to visit the temple and doing morning rituals, gave rise to the need to defecate.. which possible only in the open.. in the nearby fields. Obviously, I got very cranky about this and disagreed as well to do it in the open. On the other hand, it was getting difficult for my parents to make some arrangement for me and unmanageable for me as I had to hold on the matter inside me for long :P.
To my rescue, one of the family friend knew a place nearby where I could release myself from the morning torture! A public toilet! Yes, of cors, its condition was pathetic.. disgusting is the word I guess. The place was stinking and disgustingly filthy! Well, on the brighter side I didn't had to defecate in the open. Also, it was not something that I had to deal with everyday. But now, as a grown up, makes me mull over the fact that there are so many women out there who have adapted themselves to this system.
And this adaptation to the system has engulfed the need to have the most basic necessity of an individual, to have a toilet in the house! I mean, can you beat the fact that 626 million Indians defecate in the open! It really comes as a shock to me. Also, even if there are toilets available, convincing people to refrain from open defecation and to use these toilets is a major hurdle. Two lakh fifteen thousand children under the age of five die from diarrhoea, one every second (thanks to defecating in the open), where, India has the highest number of under five deaths globally.
They say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. But what about the fact that these people have learnt to stay in that dark cloud and don’t want to see the silver lining. Isn’t the situation horrifying enough? We talk about development, education, infrastructure, economic growth and what not?! We, the youth of the nation, want to put an end to the conservatism that is ubiquitous in the country. There are men out there, Indian men, who still believe in purdah system, which is prevalent in a few villages, preventing other men to see their women, along with the fact that it (purdah) signifies honour, respect and dignity of the females, while at the same time, these same men don’t feel ashamed of the fact that their own women, including their mothers, wives and sisters, defecate in the open. Isn’t it their moral responsibility and females’ individual right to have privacy and access to a hygienic toilet? Is it too much to ask for? And where does the dignity of women go then?
Defecating in the open or lack of sanitation is a major factor for causing deadly diseases like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, diarrhoea, etc. It can also lead to malnutrition and stunted growth in children. Also, there are strong gender impacts like lack of safety, private toilets make women and girls vulnerable to violence and is an impediment to girls’ education. Rapes and sexual molestation take place when women go out due to natures' call and search for places secluded in the hours of darkness and become prey of these demons.
Lot of initiatives have been taken by the Government of India to subsidise the construction of toilets but not much has come in hand yet. The “NO TOILETS, NO BRIDE”, slogan launched in Haryana in 2005 urging the brides to reject a groom if he did not have the lavatory at home, didn't suffice the purpose.
The recent visit of Mr.Bill Gates to India and his meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has really taken the subject further. This is not the kind of issue every politicians like to talk about. But Mr. Modi has done more to raise the awareness of the requirement for toilets than any other leader in the country has done so far. Creating good sanitation options for people, a safe place to poop is the need of the hour right now.
Just building the toilets is not going to solve the problem as open defecation is a practice acquired from the time people learn to walk. When they grow up in an environment where everyone does it, even if later in life they have access to proper sanitation, they will revert back to it.
Domex, the leading toilet cleaner brand of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), announced the launch of Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) in November 2013. They are doing an excellent job and so far their efforts have resulted in bringing the change in Maharashtra and Orrisa and they aim to build 24,000 toilets by 2015 in areas faced with the problem of open defecation, where people do not have access to improved sanitation. Let us come together and be a part of this campaign. #ToiletforBabli is Indibloggers’s way of contributing towards Domex initiative and making you and me a part of it.
You too can become the part of this campaign and can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 to eradicate open defecation for millions of kids like Babli.
This is an exciting time, not just for India, but for everyone who cares about giving the poorest people a chance to lead healthy and productive lives. With all the attention and innovation going on in these areas—from health to financial services—we have a fantastic opportunity to make an impact. It’s inspiring to see India moving to the forefront of these efforts.