Buxar, Bihar: Girl students from class 10 in Bihar have come up with a unique protest idea to ensure their parents build toilets for them at home and they are spared from the shame of defecating in open.
In a bid to safeguard their security and hygiene, six girls – Richa, Jyoti, Ranju, Rabina, Khushbu and Puja Kumari have removed the gold lockets given to them by their parents and have pledged to wear them only when toilets are constructed for them.
The six girls study in a government girl high school in Bihar’s Buxar district, about 125km from Patna.
During the school’s inspection, the district administration official Anupam Singh had asked the girls whether they had toilets in their homes. 18 of them denied having one.
“The girls also said that they want toilets to be built so that they don’t have to defecate outside and expressed their shame and agony. They removed their gold lockets and handed them over to Mr Singh. They took an oath not to wear them unless their demands were met,” another official said.
“I was both happy and upset over their determination for a toilet. These girls are fully aware of the necessity of a toilet, but they have been living without this basic need,” said Mr Singh.
Interestingly, the girls revealed that their parents are neither poverty-stricken nor facing any financial crunch, but pointed out that construction of a toilet never figured in their agenda.
“We are ashamed of living without a toilet that forces us and our mothers to defecate outside,” said Khushbu, adding that her parents were ignoring her repeated appeals for building a toilet at home.
Another girl, Puja said, “Me and my mother are forced to make our way to an open field every night under the cover of darkness to relieve ourselves.”
In the last few months, several stories have come up about the rare steps that women take to get toilets built in their houses in Bihar.
One such woman was Shanti Devi, a poor woman in her early 40s who chose to sell her four goats to finance the construction of a toilet at her house in a village in Rohtas district.
Ms Devi had kept the four goats to raise money for the medical treatment of her paralysed husband, who has been bed-ridden for over one-and-a-half-years.
“I have sold my goats to raise money to construct a toilet. I have finally built a toilet and fulfilled my dream,” said Ms Devi, a resident of Khaira Bhutha village, adding that a toilet in every home is a must.
In another instance, Phulkumari Devi, in her mid-20s, a resident of Barahkhanna village in Rohtas, mortgaged her gold and silver jewellery to raise money to build a toilet in her house.
In some cases, women, including newly-weds, divorced their husbands and left their in-laws’ houses because they failed to get toilets built and made them suffer the humiliation of going out in the open instead.
As millions of people in Bihar are still living without toilets, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier launched a key scheme from his seven resolves, ‘Shauchalay Nirman, Ghar Ka Sammaan’ (a toilet for every household) in towns and villages of the state by the end of 2019.
The state government would provide Rs 12,000 per family for constructing toilets in urban and rural areas, while community toilets would be built for those who do not have space for constructing one.
According to Development Commissioner Shishir Sinha, there are 1.60 crore families who still do not have toilets in their homes in the state.