“No Toilet, No Bride” Campaign Gives Power To Indian Women

The “No Toilet, No Bride” campaign began in India about two years ago and gives women the right to refuse a suitor unless he promises to furnish their future home with a toilet or latrine. It’s unfathomable here in the U.S. to think of a toilet as a bargaining chip, but consider that about 665 million people in India don’t have access to latrines — they have to squat in fields to do their business. And those that do have access to a community latrine are regularly under the gaze of prying eyes and suffer urinary tract infections and kidney and liver problems. A lack of proper sanitation in the fields and the communal toilets also contributes to the spread of diarrhea, typhoid, and malaria. As “No Toilet, No Bride” spreads across India’s rural areas, women are able to be more exclusive when choosing a potential husband because the practice of aborting female fetuses in favor of male ones has caused more eligible bachelors than potential brides. The women and their parents can, therefore, be more selective when making a match. But as more toilets are being built in India, one class of women are losing their jobs. Women in the untouchables caste, the lowest in India’s social order, often found jobs cleaning human waste by waste. Now, they’ll have to find other means of supporting themselves. [The Washington Post via Impact Lab]