Bengaluru, July 5: It is the story of every Indian woman, almost. Once a woman/girl steps outside her home, she has to either hold her bladder for long or take the risk of relieving herself in an unclean and unsafe environment.
Even in India's IT hub Bengaluru there are very few public toilets and unfortunately those few are also very unclean and often unsafe. Imagine the plight of a woman/girl if she is set out on a long road trip. It is the worst nightmare for any female. Again the reason is lack of public urinals to access on Indian highways.
After witnessing the predicament of his female relatives and friends, Bengaluru-based activist Vasudev Sharma decided to start a petition-- Safe and Clean Highway Toilets for Women-on Change.org. Sharma's petition is addressed to Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways. The activist's effort received large-scale support as 53,070 people have signed the petition since it was first started in mid-June.
Here is the petition:
I am extremely disturbed by the horrible suffering endured by women family members, colleagues or friends when they travel by bus because they just don't have any decent toilet options!
Toilets on road stops are either unavailable or so filthy that they are unusable. It's a sheer torture for women to travel for 12+ hours in any bus in any route in India and not be able to go to the toilet.
Many Indians prefer traveling by bus because of non-availability of train tickets or the expense of flight tickets. But for women, senior citizens and people with disabilities traveling by bus in India has always been a nightmare because of the toilet problem.
The Government needs to fix this huge problem with the Indian transport system. What is the point of futuristic highways and smart cities if women can't use these highways?
Men have never had a problem because they just go behind the nearest tree and relieve themselves. Women are left with unhygienic or outright dangerous options like going into the nearby bushes, with strange men lurking around.
Once in a while there might be paid toilets. Even here, the hygiene is horrible. What is worse is that men can do their business for 1 or 2 rupees. Women and children too are charged 5 to 15 rupees. Isn't this sheer discrimination?
We pay lots of taxes and cesses these days. It is our right as Indian citizens to have decent and safe infrastructure, especially for travel. Let's raise our voices so that Indian women can travel knowing that they don't have to suffer without a bathroom stop for hours on end.
Sign and share this petition with everyone you know. If all of us get together and speak up, we can get Minister of Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, to pay attention and prioritise a solution to this problem.