India

Indian woman gets $10,000 for toilet protest

Anita Narre holds her cheque for rupees 5 lakh ($10,000)
Image caption Anita Narre is rewarded for her "bold decision" to demand a toilet.

An Indian woman who forced her husband to build a toilet in their home has been presented with a cheque for $10,000 (£6,000) by a campaign group.

Anita Narre left husband Shivram's home in the state of Madhya Pradesh two days after their marriage in May last year.

She returned eight days later after Shivram, a casual labourer, built one with his savings and neighbours' help.

Last week the Indian census revealed that more Indians own mobile phones than have toilets in their homes.

'Accepted demand'

The reward was given to Anita by Sulabh International, a non-governmental organisation that promotes sanitation, for her "bold decision" to stand up for her dignity.

The cheque was presented to Anita by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Her stand has led to more toilets being built in her village of Ratanpur, says the Hindu newspaper.

Out of 157 houses in the village, 100 have built toilets since her protest.

Anita gave credit to her husband because "he accepted my demand."

The couple are expecting their first child in June.

More than half-a-billion Indians still lack access to basic sanitation.

The problem is acute in rural India and it is the women who suffer most.

According to figures in the latest Indian census, only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have lavatories while 49.8% defecate in the open. The remaining 3.2% use public toilets.

It also revealed that 63.2% of homes have a telephone.

But under new laws in some states, people's representatives are obliged to construct a flush toilet in their own home within a year of being elected. Those who fail to do so face dismissal.

The laws have been introduced as part of the "sanitation for all" drive by the Indian government.

The programme aims to eradicate the practice of open defecation, which is common in rural and poor urban areas of India.

Special funds are made available for people to build toilets to promote hygiene and eradicate the practice of faeces collection.

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