The right to dignity

At Pandharpur, a pilgrimage town. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Little Babli thinks it's normal to go about her morning ablutions in full view of the world. Her parents have instructed her to sit with her back facing the world, and so she never sees what they really think of her. Babli is an open target for diseases of various kinds, and even abduction. But this is the only way she knows. She has never used a toilet except when she goes to the school or the doctor. She lives in a shanty with no water supply. Whose fault is this? Her parents? Her destiny? Or society at large?

The lines of children, men and women that we routinely see along the railway lines and along dusty city lanes have become the subject of one of the many jokes that are routinely cracked around India. But for the innocent little children who are subjected to numerous health and safety hazards every single day, it's not really funny at all.

Nobody chooses to subject themselves to the indignity of open defecation. It is a result of poor sanitation facilities, which is the responsibility of the government and society as a whole. The following measures might serve to discourage such undesirable practices:
  • Public toilets within every kilometre, with minimal or no charge
  • Fines for open defecation in an area with access to public toilets
  • Awareness campaigns in schools on the need for sanitation
  • Fund-raising and petitioning for building more public toilets
One organisation that is working towards making this world a happier, safer place for Babli and her friends is Domex. Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy claims to make toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets and good hygiene. According to Domex, their effort has resulted in bringing a change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and the brand aims to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.This is a noble goal indeed, which if achieved, will go a long way in bringing a smile on Babli's face.

Maintenance is the biggest issue when it comes to public toilets. Often, what starts out as good initiatives falls into disrepair due to lack of funds and monitoring. Take the case of railway station toilets in Mumbai for instance. Most of them are absolutely unusable, apart from the ones at major stations like CST and Churchgate. We need sustained efforts to make low-cost public sanitation available at every corner of the country. And we need to change a mindset that thinks urinating in public spaces is completely acceptable.

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is click on the 'Contribute' tab on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

(This post has been submitted as part of Indiblogger's #ToiletforBabli initiative, in association with Domex)