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When nature calls

 

When nature calls
Aminul Islam Sujon 

1 billion people around the world still do not have access to toilets, and are forced to go out in the open

Today is World Toilet Day. The theme this year is “Equity and Dignity.” World Toilet Day has been celebrated globally since 2001 by the World Toilet Organisation. The organisation is based in Singapore and now has a worldwide network which includes Bangladesh. The United Nations approved this day as a UN Official Day last year.

This year’s theme focuses on safe sanitation for girls and women. It is evident that one in three women around the world are victims of violence at least once in their lifetime. The connection between toilets and violence against women may not initially be obvious, but consider a woman without access to a toilet in her home.

When travelling to and from public toilets, using the toilet, or venturing from her home to defecate out in the open, she is vulnerable to violence. This vulnerability is becoming increasingly recognised and talked about.

Reports of attacks or harassment near or in toilet facilities, and out in the open, are not uncommon. The consequences of such violence are both physical and psychological to the victim, and extend to families and communities that persist in living with gender-based inequalities and the lost economic potential of the victims.

It is our duty to protect vulnerable women. Universal access to safe toilets has a clear role to play in defending women’s safety and dignity.

It needs to be remembered that, 1 billion people around the world still do not have access to toilets, and are forced to go out in the open. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. This holds particularly true for women and girls, who lose privacy and face shame – after painfully holding their bladders and bowels all day – risk getting attacked by waiting until nightfall.

Since 2000, the world has been working towards ending open defecation by improving access to toilets through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, significant progress, particularly that of which is equitable, is still needed.

Where toilets do exist, additional inequalities are present in terms of usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and the elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene. Without accessible toilets for these sub-sections, they remain excluded from opportunities to attend school and gain employment.

World Toilet Day is about the 2.5 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation. It is about the 1 billion people who have to defecate out in the open. And it is about you, who can’t wait to change this situation.

Lack of sanitation are the causes of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhea, worm infection, reduced physical growth, impaired cognitive function, and malnutrition. Around 340,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation – that’s nearly 1,000 children a day.

Teenage girls leave school when they start menstruating because they don’t have any privacy in toilets at schools. Open defecation also pollutes rivers, and every minute 1.1 million litres of human excrement enters the Ganges river. Lack of access to sanitation, including the practice of open defection, costs the world’s poorest countries $260bn a year.

On November 17, Poribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA) and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) jointly organised a seminar at POBA’s office in Kalabagan. I came to know through this discussion that it is the legal obligation of our city corporations to ensure public toilets for citizens. When each year, our city corporations spend thousands and crores of taka, how can a citizen accept that public toilets are never provided? If people have to pay for using public toilets, why should they pay taxes to the city corporations?

Not limited to city corporations, everywhere in Bangladesh there are local government bodies present, including pourashavas, upazila parishads, and union parishads. These local government bodies should take responsibility in ensuring free, healthy toilets at every public venue and commercial building in Bangladesh.

Existing toilets are not usable as most of toilets are not clean and comfortable. Meanwhile, these toilets are not safe for women and physically challenged individuals; so people, mostly women, drink less water which causes all sorts of physical problems. Most women even avoid public toilets, even if it is absolutely necessary. As a result, they suffer a lot.

About half the people are women, and about 10% are physically disabled. But in reality, there are no public toilets for the physically challenged and the women in Dhaka, or indeed anywhere in the country.

Each city corporation has a sanitary inspector, but they are not monitoring public toilets. According to observations made by POBA, most public toilets are not secure for women. Public toilets are not clean, there are not enough lights, and water crises are a regular occurrence.

These shortcomings should be addressed by our city authorities. The government should ensure public toilets for hawkers and homeless persons, as most of them have no facilities provided. City corporations should monitor and ensure free public toilets instead of providing a lease to privatised ones.

Toilets and sanitation systems are the symbol for quality of life to any nation. To ensure quality of life, equity, and dignity, a healthy, environment-friendly, clean, and comfortable sanitation system everywhere in Bangladesh, with a focus to safe and separate toilets for women and physically challenged people, should be provided. This is our expectation from the government on World Toilet Day 2014. 

Source: http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2014/nov/19/when-nature-calls

When nature calls
Aminul Islam Sujon 

1 billion people around the world still do not have access to toilets, and are forced to go out in the open

Today is World Toilet Day. The theme this year is “Equity and Dignity.” World Toilet Day has been celebrated globally since 2001 by the World Toilet Organisation. The organisation is based in Singapore and now has a worldwide network which includes Bangladesh. The United Nations approved this day as a UN Official Day last year.

This year’s theme focuses on safe sanitation for girls and women. It is evident that one in three women around the world are victims of violence at least once in their lifetime. The connection between toilets and violence against women may not initially be obvious, but consider a woman without access to a toilet in her home.

When travelling to and from public toilets, using the toilet, or venturing from her home to defecate out in the open, she is vulnerable to violence. This vulnerability is becoming increasingly recognised and talked about.

Reports of attacks or harassment near or in toilet facilities, and out in the open, are not uncommon. The consequences of such violence are both physical and psychological to the victim, and extend to families and communities that persist in living with gender-based inequalities and the lost economic potential of the victims.

It is our duty to protect vulnerable women. Universal access to safe toilets has a clear role to play in defending women’s safety and dignity.

It needs to be remembered that, 1 billion people around the world still do not have access to toilets, and are forced to go out in the open. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. This holds particularly true for women and girls, who lose privacy and face shame – after painfully holding their bladders and bowels all day – risk getting attacked by waiting until nightfall.

Since 2000, the world has been working towards ending open defecation by improving access to toilets through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, significant progress, particularly that of which is equitable, is still needed.

Where toilets do exist, additional inequalities are present in terms of usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and the elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene. Without accessible toilets for these sub-sections, they remain excluded from opportunities to attend school and gain employment.

World Toilet Day is about the 2.5 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation. It is about the 1 billion people who have to defecate out in the open. And it is about you, who can’t wait to change this situation.

Lack of sanitation are the causes of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhea, worm infection, reduced physical growth, impaired cognitive function, and malnutrition. Around 340,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation – that’s nearly 1,000 children a day.

Teenage girls leave school when they start menstruating because they don’t have any privacy in toilets at schools. Open defecation also pollutes rivers, and every minute 1.1 million litres of human excrement enters the Ganges river. Lack of access to sanitation, including the practice of open defection, costs the world’s poorest countries $260bn a year.

On November 17, Poribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA) and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) jointly organised a seminar at POBA’s office in Kalabagan. I came to know through this discussion that it is the legal obligation of our city corporations to ensure public toilets for citizens. When each year, our city corporations spend thousands and crores of taka, how can a citizen accept that public toilets are never provided? If people have to pay for using public toilets, why should they pay taxes to the city corporations?

Not limited to city corporations, everywhere in Bangladesh there are local government bodies present, including pourashavas, upazila parishads, and union parishads. These local government bodies should take responsibility in ensuring free, healthy toilets at every public venue and commercial building in Bangladesh.

Existing toilets are not usable as most of toilets are not clean and comfortable. Meanwhile, these toilets are not safe for women and physically challenged individuals; so people, mostly women, drink less water which causes all sorts of physical problems. Most women even avoid public toilets, even if it is absolutely necessary. As a result, they suffer a lot.

About half the people are women, and about 10% are physically disabled. But in reality, there are no public toilets for the physically challenged and the women in Dhaka, or indeed anywhere in the country.

Each city corporation has a sanitary inspector, but they are not monitoring public toilets. According to observations made by POBA, most public toilets are not secure for women. Public toilets are not clean, there are not enough lights, and water crises are a regular occurrence.

These shortcomings should be addressed by our city authorities. The government should ensure public toilets for hawkers and homeless persons, as most of them have no facilities provided. City corporations should monitor and ensure free public toilets instead of providing a lease to privatised ones.

Toilets and sanitation systems are the symbol for quality of life to any nation. To ensure quality of life, equity, and dignity, a healthy, environment-friendly, clean, and comfortable sanitation system everywhere in Bangladesh, with a focus to safe and separate toilets for women and physically challenged people, should be provided. This is our expectation from the government on World Toilet Day 2014. 

Source: http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2014/nov/19/when-nature-calls