Stinking reality: Women on vigil face men defecating in open
The drive, initiated by the Karauli district administration, involves teachers, anganwadi workers, auxiliary nurses, midwives and stakeholders to promote Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
It’s a catch-22 situation for Anita (name changed), a government school teacher from Karauli district in Rajasthan. Every morning, she has the unenviable task of visiting fields near her village to stop people, most of whom are men, from defecating in the open.
If she fails to mark her attendance by clicking selfies in the fields, surrounded by the villagers out to relieve themselves, Anita will face disciplinary action from her department.
“Although we have been asked to stop women from defecating in the open, it’s not necessary that we will only encounter women. Every day we see men defecating in the open and find ourselves in a very awkward situation,” Anita told HT.
The drive, initiated by the Karauli district administration, involves teachers, anganwadi workers, auxiliary nurses, midwives and stakeholders to promote Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a flagship campaign of the Centre.
Anita is among many teachers who have to start patrolling fields and open areas of villages since 5am every day, armed with a whistle, to shame the open defecators.
“We don’t know what to do upon encountering men defecating in the open as it’s embarrassing. It’s expected from us that we will blow the whistle and stop them from defecating in the open but practically it’s difficult,” said Anita. Such drives are being initiated by district administrations to make the state open defecation free (ODF). “At present out of 191 cities, such drives have taken place in more than 100 places,” said Pawan Arora, director, directorate of local bodies.
Teachers said photos, which act as the proof of their presence in the fields, have to be sent to their principals who then forward them to the sub-divisional magistrate and collector. “We either take selfies, group photos or pictures of the open defecators before sending them to the administration to mark our attendance,” said another teacher.
Even the elderly are not spared from the exercise.
“I have only a few years left before retirement and at this age it’s difficult to manage the morning vigil and the school duty which starts from 8am. Moreover, it’s also unfair that every day we have to see the sight of men defecating in the open,” said Kalapana (name changed), a teacher.