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Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH

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Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH
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TOPIC: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH

F H Mughal - 30 May 2014 18:20
Can this forum be used for advocacy?
According to recent news, circulated worldwide, two Indian sisters were gang-raped, killed and hanged from a mango tree. The two aspects that chilled my spine were – (a) The girls, who were 14 and 15, had gone into the fields to relieve themselves because there was no toilet in their home; and (b) The girls belong to the Dalit community, also called "untouchables" and considered the lowest rung in India's caste system.

If the poor girls had toilet in their home, the unfortunate incident would have not taken place. It is pity that the so-called untouchables are being looked down upon by the community. They have no say; are neglected by the government; and, are always discriminated against, for no fault of theirs.

I would like to stimulate an informed discussion by asking a simple question: can this forum be used for advocacy (advocacy for sanitation)? If the answer is yes, then – and here is the key part - how?

F H Mughal
JKMakowka - 30 May 2014 19:39
Re: Can this forum be used for advocacy?
A very tragic story and sadly not that uncommon.

Security and dignity is certainly a good reason to have a toilet at home, however on the other hand it wasn't the girls fault that they went out to relief themselves and it could have just as well happened on the way to a shop or some other trip. The real problem is elsewhere and therefore I shy away from making this argument as it shifts (to some extent) the blame on the victim ("if they just had built a toilet...").

Concerning your overall question regarding "Advocacy" (a rather broad and a bit nebulous) term: I don't think this forum has much reach beyond expert cycles who are already more than convinced.
WTO - 02 Jun 2014 00:41
Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH
Hi Everyone,

We would like to post the following email exchange happened between Leith Greenslade and our Founder, Jack Sim, regarding the appalling violence made on 2 Indian girls on May 30, as they were visiting a nearby field which they used as toilet.

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Dear All,
I hope the entire WASH community will respond to this latest atrocity.
These two girls - just 14 and 15 years old - basically died because they had no toilet at home.

If this is not an argument for radical action to get toilets to women and girls I don’t know what is.
www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27622236

Leith

Leith Greenslade
Co-Chair | Child Health | MDG Health Alliance
Vice Chair | Office of the UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs
www.mdghealthenvoy.org

---

I totally agree with Leith,
I think it's time to have systemic change instead of doing it village by village.

We need a total policy change by al 193 governments to have Sanitation as Top Priority Agenda.
In the past, it has been really difficult to push Sanitation inside the Broad Water Agenda.
To put it crudely, Water has drowned Sanitation for the longest time.

Putting Sanitation inside the very broad and very important Water agenda is not giving it the serious attention needed.

It's time to have Sanitation stand alone next to Water but not under-water. (Pun intended).

Cheers
Jack Sim

WTO
JKMakowka - 02 Jun 2014 08:08
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet
See my comment on the tragic event above (note by moderator: was in a different thread but has now been merged into this thread).

Otherwise: While I agree that sanitation needs more attention than it gets, we also need to be careful what will happen when we take it out of the "water" context. Here in Uganda it is even more marginalized in the "health" context, with the result that the water organizations (even though not meant to) still taking the lead on it. At least in the water context there is a genuine interest & incentive to improve sanitation conditions even though water supply can sometimes take precedence over it.
joeturner - 02 Jun 2014 09:10
Re: Can this forum be used for advocacy?
I have been thinking about this for the last few days, whilst I agree that we're not in a position to influence anyone outside of the narrow field of people interested in faecal management on SuSanA - F H Mughal might have a point regarding a discussion about how to effectively campaign on the issue.

It seems to me that we have several different themes going on at the moment in the media:

1. The safety of women. Clearly this is not just about the lack of toilets, and that the girls could have been taken in broad daylight, like those 200 girls in Nigeria.

2. The 'silence' relating to sanitation, even within the UN.

3. A confusion of terms. Are we talking about the 1 billion who practice open defecation, the 2.5 billion who do not have 'improved' sanitation, or the x billion who live with sanitation interventions which are clearly not good enough? (and, perhaps, who counted these numbers and how reliable are they anyway?)

4. Knee-jerk solutions which may reduce the numbers of people practicing open defecation but not really solve the problem. As others have said recently, if the open defecators are persuaded to use a latrine but then the latrine waste is dumped into a river, then that isn't really much of an improvement.

It occurs to me that the major problem with the UN instigated 'open defecation' campaign is as much about what it is trying to achieve (philosophically, technically etc) as the lack of perception of this as an issue within developed countries.
joeturner - 02 Jun 2014 09:14
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet
I can't see that there is a major problem with it being linked with water - particularly as there is now a field called WASH (or WATSAN) and many development agencies involved in water-and-sanitation.

The problem as I perceive it is that the 'sanitation' part of WASH seems to be at a lower priority than the water provision. But then you'd think that these things should be linked together and that providing a sustainable clean water supply would require sustainable storage and treatment of faecal waste.
joeturner - 02 Jun 2014 09:19
Re: Can this forum be used for advocacy?
Another point is that if one is campaigning against open defecation with regard to the risk to women of sexual violence, do we have solutions which actually reduce the risk substantially?

I was reading not so long ago of the dangers to women from unsuitable shared toilet facilities, so there might not be such a straight line between reducing open defecation and reducing sexual violence.
muench - 02 Jun 2014 09:53
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet
I feel uncomfortable about "using" this terrible crime to help draw media attention to the problem with lack of sanitation in India, and to making it sound like there is a 1:1 connection (i.e. toilets at their houses would have prevented this crime). In fact, I feel very uncomfortable about it.
Today I read this article which articulates it very well, I think (I saw it linked to from the twitter account of @WASHLink):

www.bustle.com/articles/26242-teenage-si...e-discussing-toilets

We’re asking the wrong questions about this tragedy. We’re not looking at what could have prevented this incident — stricter law enforcement that would hold the police accountable for investigating reported crimes, for example — but instead are focusing on how we can further ‘protect’ women by sequestering them in their homes, with ‘safer’ toilets. We aren’t pushing the police to explain why two of their own officers have been arrested in the crime, but are instead using statistics to make a point about a still-developing nation. We’re talking about the problem here, but we aren’t really doing anything to solve it.

[...]

These two girls were brutally gang-raped and murdered when they went out one night to use the toilet. But they could have just as easily been assaulted on the way to school, in the market, or on a moving bus. The problem here is not the toilet. The problem is the attitude toward gender violence in a country where activists estimate that only one in 10 rapes (some estimate as few as one in 100 rapes) are reported.

If we want make India a safer place for women, we have to work towards transforming this blasé attitude that accepts that “boys will be boys” and asserts that women cause rape by placing themselves in their path. We need to change the dialogue from roundabout blaming of the survivors to questioning those who perpetrate (or in this case, refuse to intervene in) the violence. And it’s time for us to take a good look at how at how we talk about sexual violence and assault in the media.

While public sanitation is a major issue in India — a defining issue in the recent election, even — it’s hardly the point of this story. In the wake of this tragedy, we can build all the “safe toilets” we want. But let’s not live under the illusion that sexual violence will end because of it.


Once again, we need a multi-pronged approach here to reduce sexual violence in India (and all over the world, in fact). Toilets have a small part to play but my suspicion is that the toilet's contribution will be insignificant if not all the other factors are tackled as well!

Regards,
Elisabeth
joeturner - 02 Jun 2014 16:08
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet
muench wrote:


While public sanitation is a major issue in India — a defining issue in the recent election, even — it’s hardly the point of this story. In the wake of this tragedy, we can build all the “safe toilets” we want. But let’s not live under the illusion that sexual violence will end because of it.


Once again, we need a multi-pronged approach here to reduce sexual violence in India (and all over the world, in fact). Toilets have a small part to play but my suspicion is that the toilet's contribution will be insignificant if not all the other factors are tackled as well!

Regards,
Elisabeth


Thank you Elisabeth, that is a very important point which is being repeatedly missed by those who are loudly advocating the Open Defecation campaign and linking it to these tragic stories in the media to suit their purposes.

I'm sorry, I simply do not believe there are statistics that prove that murderous rapists are going to be put off by users having forms of 'improved' sanitation interventions rather than open defecation. I agree that open defecation makes people very vulnerable, but as the high rate of sexual violence in places like South Africa shows, having a toilet is not a protection against rape and murder.
AquaVerde - 02 Jun 2014 19:48
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet
Dear Colleagues,

Please do not mixed up crude crime and proper sanitation, regardless warm or cold countries.

Thanks,
Detlef
DaniBarrington - 03 Jun 2014 01:00
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India)
I find it really interesting how this story is being perceived in different areas of the world.

As a development practitioner I can see that there are a myriad of factors at play here, not least of which include corruption, caste inequities, mysogyny...

Personally, I have felt it necessary in Australia to alert people to the fact that the girls were out after dark because they had no toilet at home- because I feel there is a lot of innate racism here. It is very, very sad, but it is also true (my country often disgusts me in such matters). I have not heard this stated directly, but from past experience I fear this is how many Australians see this situation:

"Serves them/their family right for going out/letting them out after dark. Naughty children/bad parenting. Clearly there is something wrong with their culture."

Now, I clearly don't think that the only reason the girls were raped and murdered was because they were out, and ending OD will do nothing to improve the ongoing violence and corruption issues, but the fact is that those girls had no choice but to be out after dark (for their own dignity if nothing else).

Does that make sense?
AquaVerde - 03 Jun 2014 06:42
Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India)
YES!


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