Feeling upset and humiliated at having to regularly defecate in the open, six school girls from Bihar have renounced wearing gold jewellery until their parents build toilets in their homes.
According to IANS reports, Richa, Jyoti, Ranju, Rabina, Khusbu and Puja Kumari, who are class 10 students at a government high school in Bihar’s Buxar district, have said they will wear their gold lockets again only if new toilets are constructed in their houses.
A district administration official, Anupam Singh, asked the Class 10 girls at the school during an inspection whether they have to defecate in the open because they do not have toilets in their homes.
Eighteen girls raised their hands and demanded toilets since open defecation is not just unsanitary but also poses a major safety risk to women.
Image for representation only. Source: Facebook
Out of these eighteen girls, six handed over their lockets to Singh and swore not to wear them unless their requests were addressed.
Anupam Singh told IANS, “I was both happy and upset over their determination for a toilet as these girls are fully aware of the necessity of a toilet while they have been living without a basic amenity like that so far.”
The girls disclosed that their parents were financially well-off and could afford to construct these toilets, but had never taken up the task seriously. Khusbhu said that her parents were not paying any attention to her pleas about building a toilet at home.
Puja said,“I, along with my mother, am forced to make our way to an open field every night under the cover of darkness to relieve ourselves.”
It is essential to keep in mind that this move is not just a plea for public health and safety but also human dignity. Over the past couple of months, the number of women making appeals and taking proactive action to ensure that they have access to toilets in their own homes has increased.
The Swachch Bharat mission turned two years old recently but even then the Swachch Status Report indicates that more than half of the rural population (52.1%) in India continues practising open defecation.
In July, a girl from Karnataka went on a three day long fast till district authorities assured her they would construct toilets for every household in the village. Around the same time, a woman in Bihar sold four goats and used the money she had saved for the treatment of her paralysed husband to construct a toilet.
On September 27, 2016, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, launched a scheme called ‘Sauchalay Nirmaan, Ghar Ka Samaan’ to ensure that every household in Bihar has a functional toilet by the end of 2019.