Four Indian women were raped and then hung from trees near their homes within a few weeks' time in spring 2014, women who were vulnerable to assault and murder because they lacked bathrooms in their homes.
Law Professor Sharmila L. Murthy argues that the lack of "clean, safe and private toilets is a women’s issue" and asks "Why is it that more people around the world have access to cell phones than to toilets?" in an article published on Cognoscenti, WBUR's online ideas and opinion page.
"Many poor women living in rural villages or urban slums wait until nightfall, reducing their food and drink intake so as to minimize the need for elimination. Girls often do not attend school if there are no private toilets, and this is especially true after the onset of menstruation. Approximately 2,200 children die every day as a result of diarrheal diseases linked to poor sanitation and hygiene, which impacts women as mothers and caregivers. Finally, waiting until nighttime to urinate or defecate is not only dehumanizing, but it makes women vulnerable to sexual assault, as vividly illustrated by the appalling events in India," Sharmilla writes in the article "In India, Dying To Go: Why Access To Toilets Is A Women's Rights Issue.”
"If the promise of a human right to sanitation is to have any meaning, then the idea of human dignity that is at the core of human rights must apply to all people and transcend all aspects of daily life, even the parts that are taboo."