Thursday, 17 November 2016

Swachh Bharat: A Drive of Hygiene

Everyone is busy cleaning 500 and 1000 Rs notes from their homes.  Our Prime Minister Modi Ji is determined about cleaning black money from our country. With an initiative of Swachh Bharat campaign, he has made it clear that there is a need of purifying the country. But the hygiene issues of women are still rising their heads up and asking questions like are you able to find clean toilets after stepping out of home?

In a country where goddesses are worshiped religiously with gold is failing to provide respect to women’s health by not providing clean sanitary facilities to them.

This issue is very serious as it has adverse effects on women. Even in metro cities, this problem has not been solved. When a woman come out of home for work, it is not always easy for her to find a good lavatory. Even if she finds it, there is no certainty that it would be clean. It affects badly on her emotional state, body image, sexuality no matter of her age.

What she does?

She learns to hold bladder for hours. If not that she avoids drinking water for a longer time not to face such situation! Avoiding drinking water or drinking in limited quantity, isn’t this restricting the freedom somewhere? This cannot be the solution.

At railway stations you find washrooms. How many of them are hygienic? Even some air conditioned washrooms claim to be clean and charge you double for using it but women who go through such situations better know the reality. Then again, there is no option! Either use it or just let it be. And this is the image we present in front of the tourists who come to visit our country. We welcome them by saying ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and fail to provide clean sanitary facilities.

This happened to me very recently while I was traveling by bus one night. It was a journey of around 8 hours. I asked the driver to stop the bus if he sees any public toilet out there. After 2 and a half hour, the bus stopped at petrol pump where I could get down. I went near the toilet and saw that there were no lights. While I used a flashlight to go in, I got to see that there are no windows because they were never fixed there. That was embarrassing! But no option left as there was no halt for next 4 hours. And between these 4 hours, the bus stopped two times because men don’t really face this problem. They don’t have to think much if they are in hurry.

The conditions in rural areas are even worse than this. There are no toilets in the first place. Females have to search someplace behind the crops outside the village to answer the call of nature. All the states from UP to Kerala where there are villages, this is the fundamental problem! The ladies literally hold their bladder and bowels for 13 hours because they wait to get area dark enough to go into the fields. Well, and what happens when the crops are cut? No place to hide as such. Men can see them from every side. It is humiliating for everyone but it’s the worst for women.

The cases of women molestation which come from rural areas are mostly at the time of when girls go in fields. They are attacked, raped and at times even killed by men who follow them there. If they are blaming women for getting raped, in this case, what is her fault? Where will she go? You are neither providing her proper washrooms nor providing safety! There are even cases of snake bites in the rainy season. Girls have to learn to take care of this, themselves.

Annual Status of Education Report found that lack of access to toilets causes girls aged 12-18 to miss around five days of school per month or around 50 school days per year and almost 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating. We have the right to ask this question as we pay the ‘Swachchh Bharat’ tax all the time. So, is this a future India wants to see?

There are some rotary clubs, organizations who are raising funds for this issue. There are very few which are seriously regulated. It would be better if there is a separate committee for solving this. Even railway budgets should have a provision for this hygienic habit. Toilets should be built as per the density of the population in cities as well as in villages.

While dreaming about purifying the country this is a very crucial problem that should be taken care of!

Written by Medini Kajarekar
Walking through the pages to find home in words.

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