Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH
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TOPIC: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while using a field as a toilet (India) - and Violence, Gender and WASH

Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 08:33 #8838

  • joeturner
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(Note this is Page 2 of the discussion; click on Page 1 above to access the earlier posts)

Hi Dani,

I'm not sure it does make sense. First you are right to say that some Australians (and probably a whole lot of other people) might try blaming the people or the culture for allowing their girls outside at night. But instead they're now blaming people or cultures for failing to have toilets. I'm not sure there is much of a difference there.

Second, thousands of sexual crimes are happening all the time - and there are many places around the world where there is a danger to women of using toilets. The problem with the current discussion is that there is a coincidental timing of the UN 'open defecation' campaign and these horrendous stories in the media - and that now people who should know better are using it as an opportunity to highlight the issue of open defecation by saying things like 'look - the link between open defecation and rape'.

Of course, we all know that these things are more complicated than a soundbite, but the impression given to the public (and, I'd suggest, intended to be given to the public) is that open defecation causes sexual violence and that stopping open defecation is necessary for the safety of women.

The reality is that it is not possible to say whether women would be safer unless we agree what it is that we want to replace the open defecation with given there are many communities around the world which have toilets/latrines and high rates of rape associated with them. Similarly I don't believe it is possible to call any sanitation intervention safe (to women, microbiologically or in any other way) unless we have standards as to what would be considered to be safe. A latrine emptied into a river might not be open defecation but is obviously not desirable or much of an improvement. An indoor latrine might reduce the number of rapes but still be very unsafe and be a known place of sexual violence to women.

I just think talking about the issues in this way is very unhelpful.
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
Last Edit: 04 Jun 2014 08:20 by muench.

Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 10:03 #8840

  • joeturner
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I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.

Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 13:16 #8842

  • ggalli
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Dear all,

Amongst some of my colleagues there was also some discomfort in the "1:1 connection" as Elisabeth puts it. We have written a blogpost that bundles some of our thoughts. Feel free to comment here or on the website.

www.ircwash.org/blog/inequity-root-cause...olence-against-women

regards,
Giacomo
Giacomo Galli
Urban Sanitation Trainee | IRC
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 16:06 #8845

  • muench
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Thanks Giacomo, that's an excellent blog post by you and your IRC colleagues Deirdre C. Casella and Alana Potter (entitled: Inequity - a shared root cause of low access to sanitation services and violence against women)! It sheds light on this complex issue of violence against women!

Please make sure you also bring it to the attention to people on Twitter - there are lots of tweets out there today by WaterAid, WSUP, Sanergy, and many well-meaning individuals which have the simplistic tenor of "these two girls in India were killed because they had no toilets". I know they are writing tweets like this for a good cause - i.e. to increase attention to the sanitation crisis - but in this case it's just not so helpful (and might actually back-fire on us), for the reasons outlined so well in IRC's blog post.
Thanks.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Last Edit: 03 Jun 2014 16:07 by muench.
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 16:08 #8846

  • joeturner
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It'd be great if that blog post was written up as an article for the Guardian (or other media outlet).
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 03 Jun 2014 21:28 #8850

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Dear Elisabeth, dear all,

under the shock of reading about this terrible crime, I actually tried to get more support to the Mosan
(forum.susana.org/forum/categories/52-mob...imit=10&start=10)
that we had developed in Bangladesh as an indoor solution for households that lack a toilet. I was not even aware of the campaigns that linked to this incident - or "used" it...

For my understanding, the causality of having a toilet and having no further risks of sexual harassment is not a discussion about yes or no, black or white . Certainly having a toilet at home does not ensure full security. And neither does your lamp on the bicycle or the traffic light on the street. HOWEVER as a father, I am happy that I can decrease the probability of an accident by making my children USE the lamp at night and cross the street where the traffic light is. I would be very upset, if the municipality would remove the traffic lights in our street! And if an accident would happen afterwards, I would rightly blame them. Of course it was the car involved and the drunken driver who caused it and the general lack of following traffic rules by speeding in the neighborhood. But it was ALSO the lack of the traffic light! Apologies for this more than simple metaphor, but as a father of girls in India - and elsewhere (!), I would be more than happy if I can avoid that they have to walk out in the dark ... a toilet would help. MoSan would help immediately. Discussing about it and not acting does not help...
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 04 Jun 2014 00:56 #8851

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The IRC blog is excellent. It does a great job of explaining how toilets are not an immediate 'fix' to the problem, nor are they the root cause. Bravo guys.

I especially like the part about how forcing women to stay in the home to avoid rape impinges on their freedoms.
Dani Barrington, PhD, BE (Hons), BSc

Research Fellow
Monash University

Editor
Journal of Humanitarian Engineering
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 04 Jun 2014 01:42 #8852

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As usual the focus has been hijacked. This is first and foremost a men's (and boy's) issue:

www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_...n_it_s_a_men_s_issue

I am appalled that anyone would use this tragic event as a call to action for increased access to toilets. This is a call to action for men and boys to stop raping. This is a call to action for the world's societies to dramatically change how boys are raised and taught and rethink the lessons and role models to be supported and promoted. We need to radically alter our perceptions regarding what's acceptable for men's behavior, for advertising, for religion, for culture, etc. This is so much bigger than a toilet issue.


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Added by moderator (EvM)

About the TED talk:

Violence against women — it's a men's issue

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called "women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.
Last Edit: 04 Jun 2014 12:46 by muench.
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 04 Jun 2014 07:07 #8856

  • Alex
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Though the IRC is excellent - I would still say that looking from the societal perspective on this case is twisting the conclusion. The worst "men's issues" women have to suffer from is domestic violence. Thus there is of course no way to claim that indoor toilets are a solution..
Indoor toilets can protect women and children ONLY from outsiders - but this is then an effective protection. And rapists are in ALL countries and societies anti-social and condemned for their crimes.
It would be really very strong to say that boys are educated by society to become rapists! Social acceptance towards violence in the family and the suppression of women is a very different story and of course a very sad fact that needs our global full attention.
Meanwhile rapists are a perverted minority and we should help families to protect their children from this uncontrollable danger. I keep thinking that by providing indoor toilets we could help thousands of women to be safer at night. That's the whole point.

Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet 04 Jun 2014 07:46 #8858

  • F H Mughal
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While it is true that rape can occur anywhere, even in a bus (and there are many cases of non-sanitation-related rapes, here in Pakistan too) I think, in the present episode, there is a strong link between rape and non-availability of toilets and, everyone seems to be missing this point.

I would like to quote from a recent (1 June) article in the Guardian (www.theguardian.com/global-development/2...-anger-embarrassment), written by a powerful team of Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid; Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International; Corinne Woods, director of the UN Millennium Campaign; and Nick Alipui, director of programmes at Unicef:

Two teenage girls have been gang-raped and killed after doing what half a billion women and girls are forced to do every day – go outdoors to try to find somewhere discreet to go to the toilet.

Today, 2.5 billion people live without access to a toilet, forcing women to walk to dark and dangerous places to find the privacy they need – those same dark and dangerous places where men wait to attack them.

A report in the Times of India in February this year quoted the police in another district of Uttar Pradesh as saying that 95% of cases of rape and molestation took place when women and girls had left their homes to "answer a call of nature".

A WaterAid study in the slums of Lagos in Nigeria showed that a quarter of women who lacked access to sanitation had first- or second-hand experience of harassment, threats of violence or actual assault linked to their lack of a safe, private toilet in the last year. Amnesty International has released similar studies from Kenya and the Solomon Islands.

The above quotes clearly show that the authors have lack of toilets in their minds, while talking of rapes.

A news item in newspaper, Dawn (Karachi) of 2 June, has this sub-heading and it reads (partial quotes):


‘Toilets first, temples later’

The lack of private toilet facilities is a problem recognised across the political spectrum.

Ahead of his recent election victory, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated his party’s Hindu nationalist policy goals — such as the building of a controversial temple in Uttar Pradesh — would play second fiddle to sanitation.

“Toilets first, temple later,” the right-winger Modi in a speech late last year.

In an interview with AFP, one of the murdered girls’ female relatives said that she not only wanted the authorities to ensure the killers are brought to justice but also to build communal facilities.

“I am not generally afraid of open fields, of forests, snakes or local wildlife but I am nervous when I go out to relieve myself in the fields,” she said. “I want the government to build us a community toilet in the village, at least.”


I read sometime back that the issue of lack of toilets and the resulting use of outside environment for defecation is used by some persons for committing rape. I further read that the men hide themselves in dark, in such potential OD sites, lying in wait for their prey.

F H Mughal

Elisabeth: There are 2 threads on the same topic. (note by moderator: I have now merged the other thread into this thread).
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
Last Edit: 04 Jun 2014 08:16 by muench.
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 04 Jun 2014 07:49 #8859

  • JKMakowka
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I think no-one here is really advising against using the argument that a household toilet can be great from a dignity, convenience and security point of view (although in regards to security, other things like snake bites or malaria infections etc. are probably more likely to be prevented).

The point is specific in regard to using "rape" as an argument, which has a high risk of being abused for further restricting women's freedoms as well as blame-shifting.
Krischan Makowka
Technical Adviser at the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)
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Re: Uttar Pradesh rape and murder of cousins who were grabbed while they were using a local field as a toilet (India) 04 Jun 2014 08:21 #8860

  • joeturner
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Sexual violence is a complicated issue. Most rapes around the world are caused by people close to the victim. Women in some cultures get raped in the toilet, others get raped when out collecting firewood, others whilst looking for somewhere to defecate.

The problem is not that these things are linked to sexual violence, but that in a simplistic campaign the argument can be made that stopping open defecation (or providing stoves or lights in toilets or whatever) will prevent rapes. Of course, it is much more complicated than that.


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I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
Last Edit: 05 Jun 2014 19:57 by muench.
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