The Truth is Powerful
For Many Indian Women, Lack of Toilet Access Poses Health Risks
n a humid afternoon in May, a handful of local residents gathered at a one-room home in an unplanned housing settlement in Mumbai. The women greeted each other and then sat down on the small porch and on the tiled floor inside, swapping stories about the day’s events through the doorframe. Their conversation was lighthearted until someone mentioned hydration and the mood changed. “We won’t be consuming any more liquids today,” said 31-year-old Kalawati Yadav. “If we do, we might have the urge to urinate by later in the evening.” By then, the public toilets would be filthy from the day’s use, and without lighting, they would also be dark. “It’s not a safe time to go,” Yadav said.
Daytime is not much better, though, because the facilities are rarely truly clean. According to the women, the public toilets are usually dirty, unlit, and lacking in water. They are also in short supply. Two facilities, each with a dozen toilets — six for women and six for men — service the entire settlement, Subhash Nagar, which covers about one tenth of a square mile and as of 2020 housed more than 9,000 people. The municipal government is supposed to be […]