A village named Badaun in Uttar Pradesh has made headlines across the world. Located about four hours from Delhi on the banks of the Ganga river; Badaun is in the news for a devastating scene of crime.

Two lower-caste girls aged 14 and 16 were gang-raped and hung from a tree in UP. The brutal image of two minor girls hanging from a tree have been splashed all over the newspapers and timelines on social media.

The cousin sisters were on their way to a nearby field to relieve themselves, which the villagers used as a toilet. Most villagers are reportedly very poor to build toilets in their homes. Badaun, like many villages, is plagued by electricity problems. Barely any homes have toilets.

The mother of one of the deceased recently told BBC, "I always keep my girls' safety in mind. I always accompany her and other girls in the family to the field. However, that evening I had to help my husband in tending some animals so I let them go on their own. I asked them to be quick."

While the underlying problem with regard to women's safety is deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny; the fact that millions of women in India don't have access to toilets is bothersome. What's more, it also makes them an easy target for such brutal crimes.

Living in danger – No toilets for women

India is home to 594 million people defecating in the open; that's over 50% of the population.

Defecating in the fields is a dangerous situation as identified by villagers. For women, it's all the more serious. They venture out early mornings or late evenings, to avoid being seen openly defecating openly in broad daylight. During their menstrual cycles or at the time of diseases, it becomes even more troublesome to step out to relieve themselves.

The #Powerof49 Manifesto demands healthy sanitation for women

"Build 1 crore women toilets within a year with privacy and 24/7 access to water"

This was an important point presented with the entire Powerof49 Manifesto to the leading parties. JAAGORE has stressed on the importance of building toilets for women. (To see the entire Powerof49 Manifesto click here)

Toilets before temples - Will the Government oblige?

In a recent Associated Press report, the new ruling party has promised "toilets before temples" in their election manifesto.

In UP, a massive sanitation project was launched in collaboration with the federal government in 2002 to build toilets. Yet the most recent data from 2011 show that only 22% of the state's households have them.

The #PowerOf49 has a responsibility to fulfill, post the elections – to remind the elected government to deliver as promised!

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