Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flushed with (marital) success?

The Times of England reports on a novel incentive in India to install indoor plumbing.

Courtship can be an intricate business in India, but the mothers of the northern state of Haryana have a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet, no bride.”

The slogan - often lengthened in Hindi to “If you don't have a proper lavatory in your house, don't even think about marrying my daughter” - has been plastered across villages in the region as part of a drive to boost the number of pukka facilities. In a country where more households have TV sets than lavatories, it is one of the most successful efforts to combat the chronic shortage of proper plumbing.

. . .

In India it is estimated that more than 660 million people still defaecate in the open - a big cause of a host of diseases, from diarrhoea to polio. It is women, activists say, who suffer the most. “Women who must go outside have to do so before sunrise or after nightfall so they can't be seen,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh, which has built toilets for ten million Indians, and the recipient of this year's Stockholm Water Prize for developing ecofriendly and cheap lavatories to help to improve public health.

Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, said: “I come from a village and I know that if there is no sugarcane or wheat in the fields women may have to walk very far to find privacy. It's inconvenient, undignified and, at night, it's not safe.”

Those behind the “no toilet, no bride” scheme in Haryana are pleased with the results. About 1.4 million lavatories have been built in the state since the campaign began in 2005, many of them with significant government subsidies. “We have more toilets, less shame among women and less disease,” S.K.Monda, the official in charge of the programme, said.

. . .

There are pockets of resistance, however. Some upper-caste communities are not happy having lavatories in their homes because tradition dictates that such an arrangement is unclean.

Mr Monda said: “People do not want to go to the toilet in the home where they cook food. And many old people enjoy the opportunity to go for a walk. It gives them the opportunity to check on their fields.”

There's more at the link.

One does wonder what happens if the marriage ends in divorce. Who gets the toilet?



Crucis said...

Depending on the locale, there can be predators lurking in the bushes.

Once, long ago on a ferry flight from Germany to Thailand, I had a stopover in Pakistan at a military airbase not far from the Indian border. This was a RON stop because the a/c needed some maintenance. In a discussion that evening, the topic of accidental death came up. It seems that in the neighboring Indian province, the leading cause of death was---snakebite.

When ya gotta go, ya better look before you let go.

Rachel said...

My fiance is from India, and apparently divorce is such a huge social taboo that it rivals this nonsense of not having a toilet in the house. He's from Goa, so when I go for the first time not having a toilet won't be an issue.