Their first question to a prospective groom was “Do you have a toilet in your house?” For Dhanabakyam, whose house in Musiri village in Tiruchirapally district was one of the first to have a toilet, there was no way she was going to let her eldest daughter be married off into a house without one. This was in 2002. Having enjoyed the benefits, Dhanabakyam says this was the only condition that she had insisted on. “I told him he could marry my daughter, but only if they had a toilet constructed. They got one built in a month’s time and that’s when I allowed the marriage,” she says.
The Tamil lady may well be the trailblazer of a trend. For more and more women are demanding this, even walking out of their husband’s house because it doesn’t have a toilet. Anita Bai Narre is the face of this story for many. She did walk out in 2011 in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, and went on to meet the president for doing so and become a brand ambassador for the government’s sanitation campaign. “I was so ashamed that I decided to walk out a day after my wedding,” she recollects. “People would walk by us...I just couldn’t bear it.” This was enough to send husband Shivram scrambling for assistance from the panchayat. He got some money, chipped in with more from his pocket to have a toilet constructed in about a week’s time and bring Anita back home. “I was scared and shocked...ashamed to have my wife walk out,” he says.
These rebel women are gradually bringing into focus the fact that women have the worst of it, for they can only go out to relieve themselves at the crack of dawn or after sundown. Other than the constant threat of harassment from passing men, the cover of darkness also brings other threats like snakes and scorpions. The situation becomes worse in the monsoon and winter. And it’s not just a rural problem. In urban areas, open defecation, mostly along railway tracks, can be an even more unsettling experience for women given the lack of cover and space. All this has to some extent given a belated boost to the total sanitation campaign. “In Tamil Nadu, we have had girls who were exposed to toilets at their schools pressuring their parents into building one at their homes,” says M. Subburaman, director of SCOPE, a Trichy-based organisation that works on sanitation issues.
While the aforementioned brides have pushed the awareness campaign, even winning cash awards and becoming faces of the sanitation campaign in their states, the more encouraging fallout is that, because of their defiance, more toilets have been built in a year’s time in their villages than in decades. Ask Priyanka Bharti, who walked out of her husband’s home in Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj district in April 2012 after just two days and who now features in a TV commercial promoting sanitation along with actress Vidya Balan. “Around 50-60 homes in our area have had toilets constructed. This has also helped reduce the spread of disease,” she says.
Indian weddings are so expensive (even for the poor) that they could easily build toilets by cutting the cost of weddings (The Bride’s Gone to London). Even by way of dowry, they always ask for cars and TVs, but not money to build toilets. Why is this? The obvious answer is that toilets are not a priority for most people.
anyway modi giving the people what gujarathis want,communal hatard,more than anything gujarathis want this thats open truth
10 D Pankaj
The article is BOTH political AND gender-casteist.
But while the Modi camp has quickly recognised ONLY the political blow, MALES have not realised that anti-male venom is sought to be smeared by the journalists.
Ramkis remark was addressed to me. Hope you have read my remark which has nothing to do with Gujarat or any other state!
If Outlook can pen an entire article about "Modi's Gujarat" as if it is shit capital of India, why is Ramki's comment "Political" in nature?
8 D Banerjee
"They ask for cars and tv's as gifts not money to construct a toilet? Why ?"
"They ask for cars and tv's as gifts not money to construct a toilet? Why ?"
This comment reveals your misconceptions about dowry, as usual carried away by the female version of it.
Dowry is money promised ( not necesarily given! ) by the woman, to a boy of HIGHER socio / economic standing, in order to entice him to marry her. Therefore, these innocent boys, who 'attract' dowry enticements, should already have a toilet ( unless, in the rare event, that it is not 'usual' to have one, or the marriage-seeking girl is too far below socio-economically ).
Btw, the shit-gender-casteism in the media, is glaring.
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