New Delhi: With an aim to provide access to toilets to the people from the transgender community in the city, the municipal corporation of Varanasi has built a toilet dedicated to them. This toilet, according to Gaurang Rathi, municipal commissioner of Varanasi, is the first transgender-only toilet in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The transgender toilet which was formally inaugurated by Mayor Mridula Jaiswal on February 18 is located in Kamachha area of Varanasi which is in close proximity to the places where the people from the transgender community are living.
While talking to NDTV, Pinki, a 42-year-old member of the transgender community said,
It is not easy for us to go inside a public toilet when we need one. I spend a lot of time outside but still, I always feel a disconnect from the other people in society, mainly because of the way we are perceived. I am glad that the municipal corporation of Varanasi has taken this initiative. I hope they will make more such toilets in other cities as well.
According to Vivek Rai, a senior official at Varanasi municipal corporation, more toilets will be built for the transgender community soon in the city. He said,
The toilet complex has been made in order to promote inclusivity and to further promote Prime Minister’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in his constituency. We have asked the members of the transgender community here to identify the places where they think a toilet facility is required. We will then go and survey the site and start the process as soon as possible. At least 4-5 such toilets will be built soon.
When asked about the maintenance of the toilet complex, Mr Rai said that the operation and maintenance of the toilet complex have been handed over to the transgender community, but cleaning will be done by the corporation staff themselves on a daily basis.
Talking about ensuring that the toilet complex is used by the transgender community only, Mr Rai said,
The toilet is for transgenders only and not for others. This has been clearly mentioned on the signage board installed at the toilet. Since the community members will be operating the toilet themselves, they will ensure that the dedicated toilet complex fulfils its purpose.
Salman Chaudhary, a representative of the transgender community in the city said this was a long-awaited demand and there is still a lack of sensitivity from the authorities and people as access to toilets is still a matter of concern for them. He said,
It is easy to find a community or public toilet for men and women in the city but there was a lack of a toilet for transgender people. Many times, the members of the transgender community who spend most of their day on the road avoid drinking enough water for the fear of going to the washroom.
Toilets For Transgender Community In India
In its April 2014 verdict, the Supreme Court of India accorded “third gender” status to transgender people and issued a directive for separate toilets for them in public places. According to the Population Census 2011, there are around 4.88 lakh transgender people in the country. Till now, only few cities like Mysore, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi have been able to implement the Supreme Court directive. The government of Delhi has recently directed all its departments and municipal corporations to set up separate toilet facilities for transgenders in their respective offices. In rural areas of the country, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had issued guidelines to the Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (dated April 3, 2017) stating that transgender people must be allowed to use public toilets designated for both men and women, depending on their choice.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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