No toilet, no bride - Haryana slogan hits the mark (With Image)March 13th, 2009 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS
By Ritu Sharma
Panipat (Haryana), March 13 (IANS) The war against insanitation is being fought by women in Haryana by placing a simple condition before their daughters get married - her new household should have a toilet.
Suresh Devi, 52, a resident of Shahar Malpur village near Panipat, about 100 km from New Delhi, had been forced to defecate in the open till not so long ago, as there was no toilet in her home. But when her daughter got married, she made sure the bride had a toilet in her new home.
“My in-laws did not have a toilet at home and nor did my parents. Everybody at home used to go to the fields for defecation. We never had a toilet at home until the village panchayat (council) got one made last year.
“When I got my youngest daughter Sonia married off I made sure that there was a toilet in the household. After all one has to look after hygiene,” Suresh, a member of a family that is below the poverty line, told IANS.
In a country where 665 million people still defecate in the open and where killer diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid, jaundice and malaria are all caused by lack of hygeine, the state government’s sanitation campaign has come as a major change.
“Our daughter will be married only to a family that has a toilet at home. This slogan dramatically decreased the percentage of people holding out against the construction of new toilets,” chuckled 70-year-old Satwant Kaur of Khanpur Koliyan, a village in the neighbouring Kurukshetra district, about 150 km from the national capital.
It has been nearly four years since the Haryana government embarked on a campaign to create awareness about sanitation among the masses through radio jingles, television advertisements, posters and banners.
Walls in many villages have been painted with slogans in Hindi reading - “Na byahun beti us ghar mein jismein na ho shauchalaya (Won’t get my daughter married into a household which does not have a toilet).”
Since 2005, 1.41 million toilets have been built across the agriculture-dependent state that surrounds the national capital on three sides. Out of the 1,417,960 toilets constructed from 2005 to Jan 31 this year under the total sanitation campaign, 947,828 units were built by families above the poverty line and 470,132 by those below the poverty line.
Under a scheme, 798 village panchayats have already received nearly Rs.112.9 million (Rs.11.29 crore) as reward from the state government for having a toilet in each household of the village.
Back in Shahar Malpur village, the movement has caught on with several families undertaking the construction of the toilets in their homes on their own, like in the case of 75-year-old Bhaiya Ram Sharma, who believes one has to change according to the demands of time.
“Our belief is that the toilets should not be in the home as the food is also cooked within the premises. Moreover, one also gets fresh air during the walk to the fields. But one has to change with the times,” Sharma said from his four room village house.
This was the belief which has been the reason behind people of this state using open fields for defecation. While men and children can go any time, the women have to do so under cover of darkness.
“Since my marriage and before that in my parents’ home we have always been going out. But with age and all the children getting married it becomes difficult to go out for defecation if there is an emergency and it is also quite unsafe for the women to go out at odd hours,” said Sharma’s wife Jeevani.
(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: daughter sonia, defecation, diarrhoea, haryana government, jaundice, kaur, killer diseases, malaria, New Delhi, panipat, poverty line, sanitation, slogan, slogans, state government, television advertisements, toilets, typhoid, village panchayat, youngest daughter