Asserting their basic right and dignity -- a proper toilet in their marital home -- six newlyweds cutting across communities, have left their in-laws' homes in protest. What is unique is that all the six belong to the same village.
The desertions have compelled villagers to change their
mindset about open defecation being "natural and normal".
The newlyweds -- Neelam, Kalawati, Sakina, Niranjan, Gudiya and Sita -- from Khesiya village in Kushinagar district, who went back to their parental homes, are however, willing to return once proper toilets are provided.
For the newlyweds, it is more a question of dignity than just sanitation.
"It's not only a question of toilet but of dignity," said Sakina, one of the newlyweds.
Her mother-in-law had pleaded helplessness citing economic compulsion when Sakina demanded for a toilet.
Echoing Sakina was Gudiya, another newlywed, who returned to her parent's home.
"It was a difficult step but I had to take it for human dignity."
In April 2012 a similar desertion by a bride in the district had caught international attention.
Jolted by the newlyweds' insistence, villagers have promised to build toilets at each household.
The rebellion in the span of a month has prompted Sulabh International – known for providing low-cost toilet to rural households -- founder Bindeshwar Pathak to construct toilets at the in-laws' houses of all the six newlyweds.
"Such incidents clearly show the changing mindset of girls over toilets. Now everybody realises the importance of toilets," said Pathak.
"It is a bold and extraordinary step."
Sulabh is building toilets tor each house in Katra Sadatganj village in Badaun district where two cousins were found hanging from a tree after being killed, when they had gone out of their house to relieve themselves.
They didn't have toilets in their houses.
The lack of toilets is endemic in many rural households and has spiked crimes rates in various states, as rapes are often perpetuated on women when they go out of their homes to relieve themselves.
"The problem is especially acute in rural areas where women suffer the most due to lack of toilets," said Pathak.
"They have to wait for darkness for the sake of privacy before attending to the call of nature."
A UN study in 2010 found more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. Lack of toilets and other proper sanitation costs India nearly $54 billion a year through hygiene-related illnesses, lost productivity and other factors, a World Bank study has found.
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