India gang rape case highlights lack of toilets
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
LUCKNOW, India (AP) — The two teenage girls had walked out together at night, as they did every night, into the wild bamboo fields 10 or 15 minutes from their mud-and-straw huts to relieve themselves. Like millions of families across India, they had no toilet at home.
In the dark, they were attacked, gang-raped and killed. The assailants then hung their bodies from a mango tree in their village.
Beyond highlighting the rampant sexual violence in India, last week’s horrific crime is drawing attention to a glaring problem across the country that threatens women’s safety: the lack of toilets.
U.N. figures show of India’s 1.2 billion people, 665 million of them — mostly those in the countryside — don’t have access to a private toilet or latrine, something taken for granted in developed nations. Some villages have public bathrooms, but many women avoid using them because they are usually in a state of disrepair and because men often hang around and harass the women.
“Around 65 percent of the rural population in India defecates in the open and women and girls are expected to go out at night. This does not only threaten their dignity, but their safety as well,” Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF’s Representative to India said in a statement.
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