A class 12 student allegedly committed suicide on Friday in Jharkhand’s Dumka district after her parents turned down her repeated pleas to construct a toilet at home as they wanted to save money for the 17-year-old’s marriage, police said.
Khushbu Kumari, a resident of Dudhani colony in the town, was found hanging from the ceiling of her room by family members, the police added.
The tragedy underlined a growing awareness on hygiene among the younger generation in the state which has country’s highest rate of open defecation.
The 2011 census had said that 92.4% people in Jharkhand’s rural areas do not have toilets.
In recent times, there have been several instances of women refusing to marry into families who don’t have toilets in their homes, which officials attribute to growing public awareness about the health hazards of open defecation.
Dumka police, quoting Khushbu’s family-members, said that she was pressurising her parents for a toilet in her home as she was fed up and ashamed of defecating in open fields.
“Girl’s parents told her that they couldn’t afford a toilet as they were saving money for her marriage,” said investigating officer Manoj Mishra.
Her father Shripati Yadav is a driver.
“For us marriage was more important. She was demanding a toilet and on Friday we had a heated argument. She was stubborn and ended her life,” said a tearful Sanju Devi, Khushbu’s mother.
Police said that the girl ended her life when her parents were not at home.
“It is a tragic incident as girl’s parents were unaware of the importance of toilets,” said Dumka SP Bipul Shukla.
A government official said that under a government scheme, individuals are provided Rs 4,600 for household toilet construction.
“The parents seemed uninformed,” said a senior sanitation officer requesting anonymity.
A study by the Unicef earlier had identified poor sanitation as a major cause for diseases and deaths among children in the state and also showed how open defecation had a strong correlation with malnutrition (55%) and stunting (47%) among children of the state.