October 15, 2019More than 732 million people in India don’t have access to toilets, according to WaterAid, an international organization that focuses on water, hygiene and sanitation. This lack of access poses problems in particular for rural women and girls who are often obliged to wait until it is dark to defecate in open fields. Not only does this situation create physical discomfort, compromise sanitation and health, and damage dignity, but it also causes serious safety problems.
Women and girls are at high risk of rape and other forms of violence when they travel to distant fields, forests, and bodies of water under the guise of darkness to relieve themselves. In the Bihar state of India alone, it is estimated that in 2012, 400 women and girls could have been protected from rape if they had toilets at home, according to the BBC.
Since 2014, the Presbyterian Hunger Program has been working with grassroots partners to build latrines and toilets, in addition to providing important sanitation trainings to families in India. This work has a positive impact on the health and safety of women and their families, and also helps restore their dignity.
Pagidikathula Renuka, a widowed mother of three, was having to assist her handicapped daughter daily to travel to the fields for elimination since they had no toilet in the home. Renuka said, “Now we have a toilet in our house. It is very useful for us, especially for my handicapped daughter for her needs. We don’t have to go far in the field for our needs. We all are praying and grateful to those who helped my family for constructing the toilet we needed.”
Eileen Schuhmann, Mission Specialist for International Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program
Today’s Focus: International Day for Rural Women
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Gracious God, we pray for those who must courageously travel into the darkness, in fear, to satisfy their most basic needs. We pray for improved access to sanitation for all your people. We pray for the upliftment of human rights and human dignity. Amen.