Living in the leading democracy in the world is not an easy undertaking. India’s population rate is frightening, and it leads to several predicaments that are being overlooked. I think that’s even more frightening!
Among the many issues that result from overpopulation, hygiene and sanitation are crucial issues. The Indian government or the authorities are still unable to provide fundamental hygiene and sanitation to women and girls in India. You will be surprised to hear the fact that “90% Of Indian women are afraid of using public washrooms”. An online survey was conducted by the women empowerment group ‘Pinkishe’, and a female hygiene party ‘Sanfe’, and the results are alarming.
The Government of India stresses on infrastructural rules, check-up practices with different checklists, including sanitation waste supervision, but what about the implementation? Most of our washrooms, whether in outdoor surroundings, workplaces/offices, shopping malls or hotels, are not hygienic, and barely suitable for use. The problem is most of the public toilets in India are designed in such a way, that they tend to compel women to compromise on their private hygiene, but the question is why?
It is not at all surprising that women generally use different substitutes to deal with the concern, but is this the solution? Those substitutes lead to different repercussions on their health in the long run. For example, one of the the most common situations is holding urine for a long period, which can cause kidney stones, weakened bladder muscles and other severe kidney disorders.
Semi-squatting leads to extended pain in the joints of the pelvic muscles. No wonder these substitutes have become frightening for women, particularly in old age. Don’t you think it is time for our country to deal with the poor condition of women’s hygiene at public toilets? The unhygienic menstruation practices and the unclean washrooms can lead to a number of urinary tract diseases.
I’m sharing some of my personal suggestions:
Convenience: The limited access to water and restricted sanitation facilities in public toilets should be addressed urgently. A lack of water and hygienic surroundings is extremely problematic for women, and even more so, for those with disabilities, pregnant women, little children and people who are injured or unwell.
Proper maintenance: I think this is one of the major reasons for the unhygienic public washroom situation in India, at present. The public toilets should be well constructed, and the caretakers must be available to keep the surroundings clean, throughout the day.
Availability: One of the most crucial issues is the lack of public toilets, which forces women to resort to unhygienic practices. The government should ensure that public washrooms are available at all crowded locations and that they are properly maintained.
Managing menstrual cleanliness: The government should look after the matter of menstrual hygiene by providing sanitary pads in public washrooms. The menstrual hygiene products should be kept in a noticeable place so that users can take them or purchase them, at an inexpensive price, from the caretakers. The toilets must also have alternatives for washing different reusable menstrual products.
The above-mentioned suggestions are my personal recommendations, as even the most circumspectly designed and constructed toilet will become ineffectual if you do not keep it clean and serviceable. Better hygiene and cleanliness contribute to overall female health and well-being.
We can already observe the conditions of the poorest women in India, who are suffering from high rates of anaemia and other health issues; so why can’t we atleast provide them with hygienic washrooms?
The fact is that not just menstruating women, but all women require a private and easy-to-use toilet. Unfortunately, the idea of maintaining accessible, clean toilets, is still a new concept in India.