India: Rural Villagers Say, “No Toilet, No Bride.”

Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor, May 12, 2009

In rural India, having a toilet has become an issue of a woman’s right. Many homes don’t feature plumbing because men, in particular, question the expense–even the desirability–of indoor facilities.

That’s changing rapidly in the state of Haryana, where the government is putting up funds and village women are leaning on their men to get with the program. Their slogan: “No toilet, no bride.”

The combined effort has helped boost the number of rural homes with toilets to 60 percent, up from less than 5 percent four years ago, says Kashi Nath Jha, the Haryana local chairman of the sanitation organization Sulabh International.

{snip} [One] bride has already divorced her groom when she learned that his family lied about having a toilet, says Anil Kumar Chhikara, one of the village leaders. Another young woman, Monica, says of any potential suitor, “I’ll be asking him to build a toilet.” And if he doesn’t? “Then I won’t marry him.”

Women have more clout these days in the village, says Mr. Chhikara, because years of selective-sex abortions have left more bachelors than potential brides.

{snip}

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