Poor security and sanitary conditions for women in Delhi’s toilets

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.

 

A village free of open defecation, alcohol and violence

An open defecation-free (ODF) Garo village in Goalpara district of Assam is not only the state’s cleanest village, but also is a place where no one consumes alcohol, drugs or smoke and it has never witnessed any crime in at least past 17 years, which  is not only a model for the state but for the entire country.

Rangsapara,  Assam’s cleanest village, has started its work to be a clean and peaceful place in 1999, said Roberth John Momin, Village Head, who is part of this since the very starting.

The village has also taken a pledge to be plastic- free from this month and is also planning to become the first village in the country with a cashless economy, he said.

“The arrival of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin was a blessing for the place.  The mission came to the block in the year 2014 and with its help and efforts of public health engineering department (PHED) the villagers began to have pucca toilets, which was previously only kutcha,” said  J V N Subramanyam, Deputy Commissioner

Rangchapara was declared the cleanest village in the state for the year 2016-17 by the public health engineering department (PHED) last month and also received a sum of five lakh rupees in form of the award by the CM Sarbananda Sonowal.IMG_20170215_141033483_BURST000_COVER_TOP

The village was selected by  Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development – a third party which examined every village in every district on the basis of criteria including attempts to become ODF, pucca toilets and their condition, attempts to promote awareness on cleanliness amongst others.

“It was in the year 1999 when the village people began talking about cleanliness and in 2000, we formed a 10-member committee, which was headed by me,” said Momin.

“The committee has taken four resolutions – to be a peaceful and united village, to be a clean village, every household should have toilets and availability of clean drinking water for all,” he said.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.

“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.img_20170215_113854202_hdr

Villager’s intention was to make the village clean, this intention will also bring fame and award was a surprise to them.

“The villagers had no idea that they can even be cleanest in the district, but they were found to be cleanest in the state,” said Abdul Mozid, Senior Block Development Officer, Balijana Block.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The villagers also have proper waste management. You can find a dustbin after every few steps and they dispose of biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste accordingly,” he said.

The village has two schools – one primary and another middle. The people are neither very rich nor are highly educated. The muddy road which connects the village to the district is also not in a very good condition and the 108 ambulance refuses to ply in the village.

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Village’s Lower Primary

“We have been demanding for the money since 2014, but no money has been granted. It is a very serious problem,” said Ratna Nath, Panchyat President Balijana Block.

The steps to be the cleanest village has not only helped the villagers to get the award but has also reduced the number of children falling ill in a population of 475.

“People are now connecting health with cleanliness, which has also helped in reducing the number of diarrhoea cases to half. The village is a perfect example of what people and government together can do,” Subramanyam said.

“The village is now a brand and is helping in bringing changes in the nearby villages. People began to follow its path to not only be clean, but healthy as well,” he said.

The main profession in the village is agriculture, and only seven people are in government jobs. Most of the houses are kutcha, but with the help of the Indira Awas Yojana, they began to have a plastered house made of bricks.IMG_20170215_132809375