Sanitation crisis in India has reached an alarming stage, say health experts.
About 400 delegates from various parts of India, along with women and people from marginalised communities, attended this convention on the Right to Sanitation where they discussed and put forward the fears they face in day-to-day life.
Veermati, 25, from Bhalaswa resettlement colony in Delhi, pointed out how girls in their area skip dinner to avoid the need to use the toilet in school.
"Children, especially girls, skip their dinner because there is no toilet in the school and in the colony as well. So, we have to find a suitable place to defecate," she said.
Naffisa Barot from Gujarat talked about women's dignity and menstrual hygiene management.
"There is an issue of women's dignity and safety, especially in the light of increasing sexual violence on women and menstrual hygiene management and this needs to be addressed," said Barot. She works for Uthan Parvah, a network for mobilising action for sustainable access to safe and adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
According to Delhi-based Ramzan, a community leader from New Seemapuri in north Delhi, people in urban poor communities live in unhygienic conditions.
Experts from the field felt it is high time to manage human waste in the country.
"We should see the right to sanitation in a much broader perspective, the management of human waste should be treated in an environment-friendly manner and in line with human dignity," said Pune-based K.J. Joy from the Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India.
Echoing similar views,R. Murali, regional convener, Freshwater Action Network South Asia, said: "The current trends of sanitation coverage indicate clearly that the poor are 13 times less likely to benefit from sanitation programmes."
The convention urged all political parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to unite and support the right to sanitation in a comprehensive and non-compromising manner.