Sanitation Shame: 300 million Indian women have no access to a toilet

Shadab Moizee @shadabmoizee

That India has a sanitation crisis is not news - toilets have been part of the electoral rhetoric for the past couple of years.

The lack of toilets is of course an issue of humaneness - of the right to basic human dignity. It's an issue most urbanites don't even register - we've had access to private toilets for as long as we can remember. Yet, 60% of the world's open defecation happens in India.

But toilets are also a massive significant health and safety issue - and that issue is only amplified when it comes to women.

Maternal and child deaths are linked to poor hygiene coming from lack of toilets. Girls with no access to toilets go out alone in the dark looking for a private place to defecate - a surprisingly large number of rapes and assaults on women happen under these circumstances.

According to United Nations figures, 300 million women in India don't have proper, safe toilets to relieve themselves.

The Swachh Bharat mission aims to build 11 crore toilets in the next five years but this promise seems to be impossible as in the last four years only 57.2 lakhs toilets have been built annually. Unless that pace is tripled - which means building one toilet per second - that commitment cannot be met.

The prime minister isn't the only one to make this promise - Delhi CM promised Delhi's 7.7 million women proper sanitation facilities with 1.5 lakh toilets slated to be built for slum women.

Six months later, though, that number stays at a dismal 300.

Shadab Moizee

Shadab Moizee @shadabmoizee