July 9th, 2016
A newlywed Bihar woman living in the Khothawa village of West Champaran district has declared that she will divorce her husband for not getting a toilet made in their house and thus getting her humiliated each time she goes out into the open to relieve herself.
On Thursday the woman namely Archana Gautam told the village panchayat that her husband Bablu Kumar has refused her repeated requests of getting a pucca toilet made inside their house.
“I have been forced to make way to an open field every day under the cover of darkness to relieve myself. The owner of the land repeatedly insults me,” Archana was quoted as saying to newindianexpress.
Archana and Bablu married in May.
According to Archana, Bablu has clearly denied all her requests and told her to get the toilet made by asking her parents for it.
“I am fed up with him and forced to leave him,” she reportedly told the village panchayat.
Archana is not the only one to have had to face this problem; millions of young women living in this day and age still have to go out in the fields for their basic needs of defecation and this not only poses a question of threat to their privacy but also puts them at risks of contracting diseases and also spreading them.
The tragedy underlines a growing awareness on hygiene among the younger generation in the state which has country’s highest rate of open defecation. According to a global study conducted by UNICEF, India has the largest number of people defecating in the open: more than 595 million. India accounts for a staggering 90% of South Asians and 59% of the people in the world who practise open defecation.
HEALTH RISKS POSED BY OPEN DEFECATION
- Open defecation increases communities’ risk of polio infection.
- Open defecation is the main reason India reports the highest number of diarrhoeal deaths – 188,000 every year- among children under-five in the world. Children weakened by frequent diarrhoea episodes are more vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, and opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.
- Open defecation exposes women to the danger of physical attacks and encounters such as snake bites.
- Open defecation gives rise to poor sanitation which in turn cripples national development.