India

Indian women chase away defecators with sticks

The stick-wielding women Image copyright Arzoo Alam

A group of village women in the northern Indian state of Bihar have been using sticks to chase away people trying to defecate near the main road in their village.

The group of 16 women say they are encouraging people to go into the fields for defecating, away from the homes and the main road in their village in Nalanda district.

Image copyright Arzoo Alam

The village has nearly 275 homes, but most do not have toilets. Hence, almost all the residents of the village go outdoors and many squat along the main road.

"The road is 10ft wide, but because of excreta along the sides of the road, we find it impossible to walk on it," complained villager Sudama Prasad.

More than half a billion people in India have no access to latrines and they are forced to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, according to the World Health Organisation.

Image copyright Arzoo Alam

Upset by the filth and frequent outbreak of diseases, villager Girija Devi began patrolling the road last October.

Soon, other women in the village also joined her campaign to discourage people from defecating near the road.

Image copyright Arzoo Alam

"Initially we were just four women, but gradually our ranks swelled and now we are 16 of us. We generally split into groups of four and go on patrolling," Girija Devi said.

Image copyright Arzoo alam

Since most people go outdoors at the crack of dawn or after dusk, the stick-wielding women have to go out on the patrol in the dark.

Armed with their long bamboo sticks and torch lights, these women are diligent about keeping their environment clean.

Image copyright Arzoo alam

Raj Munni Devi says their job is not easy. "Many people in the village are upset with us, some have even stopped talking to us."

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