Villages in three Northern states of India adapt ‘no toilet, no bride’ policy

In context with Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), villagers from 110 Villages in three Northern states of India – Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh – have decided to not wed their daughters in families with no toilets.

The decision to inculcate healthy habit and to curb open defecation was taken in a meeting (Panchayat) organized in Tiwara village, some 100 km from Gurgaon (Delhi NCR region).

About 1,200 villagers in attendance at the panchayat, unanimously agreed at not marrying daughters in houses that do not have toilets.

In India, over 60 percent of country’s 1.2 billion population (in rural areas and urban slums) defecates in the open because they do have access to toilets. Government of India, under the Swachh Bharat program has tried to change the scenario – over the past 2 odd years, the government figures suggest over 20 million toilets have been built in the country.

Also read: Himachal Pradesh declared first Open Defecation Free (ODF) State amongst the Big States Category in India.

Dearth of toilets in households, and lack of access to clean and safe bathrooms in public areas often leads to crime against women. While men in India have no constraints and can be seen relieving themselves in open, women are at risk of being attacked and raped. There have been instances of women being raped in fields, when they were out addressing nature’s call.

Additionally, open defecation leads to women and children succumbing to childbirth related infections.

The panchayat meeting in Tiwara, which was attend by a large number of Muslims, was headed by maulana Yahya Karimi.

Citing the perils of open defecation and lack of sanitation facilities in homes, Karimi said,

Open defecation is not only an unhygienic habit, but also it often leads to crime against women, especially since most women have to step out of homes in the dark. So, unless a groom has a toilet at his house, he won’t get a bride.

In addition to addressing measures to eradicate social evils, the panchayat also touched on ways to cut undue wedding expenses, burden of which is generally borne by bride’s family.

Decision was taken to ban liquor consumption and amplified music at weddings, which could check unnecessary wedding overheads that compel marginalized families to take loans for daughters’ weddings.

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