Women safety is a major concern in the national capital, however even after that more than one in every three public toilets in Delhi do not have separate provision for women, according to a survey of public toilets done by an NGO here, which also found that out of women’s toilets 46 per cent are unguarded – a condition that shows lack of basic security provisions in the women’s public toilets.
The survey not only raises concern for women security, but also for the hygiene and sanitation level in the nation capital. The central government is aiming to make the country Open Defection Free (ODF) by 2019, but the conditions of the toiltets are a major question mark before this ambitious project.
Another sad but major finding of the survey is the prevalence of manual scavenging practice. This could be inferred from the findings that septic tanks of nearly 38 per cent of the toilets are cleaned manually. Out the total of 23 toilets survey in the central Delhi, 19 are cleaned manually, and out of 24 toilets survey in the south Delhi, 18 are manual.
A 20-years old undergraduate student said, “Whenever I go for shopping, particularly in street markets, I face this problem. Either the toilets are not there or if it’s there it is not in a usable condition.”
The survey carried out by ActionAid India in December last year under the Peoples’ Vision of the City (PVoC) campaign found that nearly 35 percent of surveyed public toilets in the city did not have separate sections for women.
A total of 229 toilets maintained by the three Municipality Corporations of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipality Corporation (NDMC) and those outsourced to private agencies were covered during the exercise.
When it comes to women’s toilets, 149 toilets out of the 229 toilets surveyed had some provisions for women but functional issues like cleanliness, lack of hygiene and safety measures were found to be the key concerns.
The survey also revealed that more than 71 per cent of the toilets physically audited were not cleaned regularly. Cleanliness was also a major issue for toilet users who were interviewed during the process of the survey.
Over 72 per cent of the toilets lacked visible signboards, while 76 percent had no ramp facility and nearly 76 percent did not have sign boards in Braille language, making it hard for people with disability and elderly to access public toilets.
More than 66 per cent women’s toilets did not have a working flush, while 53 per cent did not have running water facility and over 51 per cent did not have the facility to wash hands. About 61 per cent toilets did not have soap to use, which raises a concern regarding the quality of public sanitation available for women.
It was also found that 28 per cent toilets did not have doors, while 45 per cent toilets did not have a mechanism to lock from inside. Over half of them did not have lights neither inside the toilet nor in outer premises. 46 percent of the toilets are unguarded – a condition that shows the lack of basic security provisions in the women’s public toilets, and adds to the safety concerns.
“This obvious neglect of women’s human rights has gone unnoticed for too long and time has come to make this an important priority for the nation. ThePeoples Vision of the City campaign strives to focus attention and deliver on this issue,” said Sehjo Singh, Director Programme, and Policy of ActionAid India.