posted at 20:50
Author Name: Abhaya Srivastava
New village toilets a small step for poor Indian women
Villager Geeta uses a toilet donated by sanitation charity Sulabh in Hirmathala village in the state of Haryana on August 29, 2014.Katra Shahadatganj - Decorated with marigolds and ribbons, 108 toilets unveiled in a tragedy-hit village are a small step in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to end open-air defecation for impoverished Indian women. The spotlessly clean toilets were donated on Sunday to the village in northern Uttar Pradesh state, where scared and vulnerable women had long been forced to trek nightly into the fields to relieve themselves. "Our aim is to provide a toilet to every household in the country in the not too distant future," Pathak told AFP in Katra Shahadatganj village. Mother-of-three Dhanwati Devi, one of the villagers to receive a new toilet, said she could finally relieve herself without fear of being attacked in the dark. The uncle of the girls who were hanged said that for his family, the village's new toilets were symbols of both "Hope and despair". Successive governments across India, as well as charities and campaign groups, have long struggled to increase the number of toilets in villages and encourage their use. "To many, the very idea of defecating in or nearby your own house, albeit in a toilet, is bizarre and seen as less hygienic than defecating on open ground away from where they live," White told AFP. Workers from the Sulabh charity will now focus on educating villagers about improved sanitation and the health benefits of using toilets.

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