When a panchayat in Haryana takes a decision about the women in its village, it invariably makes headlines. That’s exactly what happened with a recently held panchayat meeting’s decision, but this time it was for all the right reasons. About 1200 villagers from 110 villages across Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh held a mega-panchayat at Tiwara village in Haryana’s Nuh district, and took a unique resolution – no women from their villages would be married into a household that did not have a toilet.
The ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ resolution is their unique way to fight the age-old problem of open defecation that is so prevalent across India.
Maulana Yahya Karimi who chaired the Panchayat meeting, and is also a resident of Tiwara village, explained the decision, Going in the fields to defecate is not a healthy option; it is an unhygienic habit that many villagers follow in India. We wanted to change this. Open defecation is also a major cause for crimes against women. So, together we decided to initiate a moment which will help reduce the social evil of open defecation – No Toilet, No Bride.
About 65 per cent of the houses in Nuh district have toilets, and Mr Karimi believes that the new policy will make the entire district open defecation free by March 31.
Mr Karimi also added, it is fascinating that we spend so much on weddings, why can’t we choose to spend the same amount on building a toilet at our home instead.
To demonstrate how serious the panchayat is about enforcing this decision, a list of rules have been set up. For instance, any couple who wishes to get married has to apply for a special certificate.
The criteria for validating and making this policy a success will be that the bride and groom have to produce a certificate from their village sarpanch, confirming that they have a toilet at their home. If they fail to provide the certificate then the marriage will not be solemnized, explained Mr Karimi.
52.1%, that is more than half of India’s rural population still defecates in the open. If India is to fulfill its target of becoming Open Defecation Free by 2019, then more people need to rally together and come up with ‘swachh’ solutions like these villagers. Thanks to the initiative taken by Mr. Karimi, more villagers are getting aware and fewer people are now defecating in the open. Soon, Nuh district will be completely Open Defecation Free.
Swachh Warrior, Mr Karimi concludes by saying, Now is the time for Nuh district to become swachh, we hope this movement creates a buzz across India. I plead everyone out there to join this chain and make India truly ‘Swachh.’