Tag Archives: gender based vioience

Without Access to Clean, Safe Toilets, Women Face Assault and Illness

Without Access to Clean, Safe Toilets, Women Face Assault and Illness. News Deeply, February 3, 2017.

Over 940 million people globally have to defecate outside because they lack access to toilets. In a nomad camp in Pakistan, women tell of how relieving themselves behind bushes or in fields puts them at risk of health problems, harassment and sexual assault every day. 

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Nasreen Bibi, 27, is busy preparing lunch for her family outside their squalid tent. Ten years ago, poverty drove her and her husband to move their three children and a camel from Sheikhupura, Punjab, to Peshawar in Pakistan to look for work.

Since then, they have been living in a tent in a nomad camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, selling camel’s milk on the roadside for $2.50 a day. Their makeshift home has no water, electricity or toilets.


Nasreen Bibi prepares lunch outside her family’s tent in a nomad camp in Peshawar. They live with no running water, no electricity and no toilets, so when Bibi goes to defecate in the open, her husband or her son have to stand guard against harassers. Photo by Mahwish Qayyum

“To answer the call of nature, we have to go to nearby fields. Sometimes men try to [watch] us secretly when we defecate in the open,” Bibi says. “In order to ward off harassers, my husband or my son accompany me to the field and stand watch.”

Around 2.4 billion people – roughly one third of the world’s population – don’t have access to toilets, according to a 2015 report by UNICEF and WHO.

Among them are over 945 million people who, like Bibi and her family, are forced to defecate in the open.

Lack of access to clean, private toilets puts women at risk of infection and disease, say health experts.

And as these women suffer the indignity of having to defecate behind bushes or out in a field, every trip to the bathroom makes them vulnerable to harassment, sexual assault or even animal attack.

Read the complete article.

The Perils of Writing about Toilets in India

The Perils of Writing about Toilets in India. IPSNews, November 6, 2016.

Journalist Stella Paul was midway through an interview about toilets when she found herself, and the women she was speaking to, under attack from four angry men.

“This man, he comes and he just grabs this woman by her hair and he starts dragging her on the ground and kicking her at the same time,” Paul told IPS.

She remembers thinking, “what is happening,” as another three men followed, beating the women, including Paul who was hit in the face.

“They are blindly just beating this woman.”

“Why? Because how dare you talk about getting a toilet when you are untouchable, you are Dalit.”


Paul interviews Dalit women in Hamirpur – a district in Northern India. All of these women have been abandoned by their husbands who fled to escape drought. Credit: Stella Paul / IPS.

The attack took place while Paul – a 2016 recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award and IPS contributor – was researching a story about women forced into dual slavery in illegal mines in South-East, India.

The women Paul was interviewing had been forced to work unpaid in the mines, but were trying to escape, some of them were attending school, and they had now found out they were potentially going to have their own toilet under a government sanitation scheme.

Read the complete article.

Making Sanitation and Hygiene Safer- Reducing Vulnerabilities to Violence

Making Sanitation and Hygiene Safer- Reducing Vulnerabilities to Violence. Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights, Issue 5, May 2015.

Authors: Sarah House and Sue Cavill.

CLTS aims for total sanitation where no-one practices open defecation, which in itself has potential to reduce vulnerabilities to violence. Concerns over safety, privacy or dignity when using sanitary facilities can however lead to the facilities not being used or only being used during hours of darkness.

Whilst poor design or siting of latrines or hygiene related facilities are not the root cause of violence, these issues can contribute to increased vulnerabilities to violence, as well as fear of violence, which can affect the usage of the facilities and also the ability of communities to become and remain ODF.

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS focuses on the issue of safety and vulnerabilities to violence that women, girls and sometimes boys and men can face which are related to sanitation and hygiene.

It points out areas in which CLTS methodologies, if not used skilfully with awareness and care, can run the potential risk of creating additional vulnerabilities, for example as a by-product of community pressure to reach ODF.

It also looks at good practices within organisations to ensure that those working in the sector know how to programme to reduce vulnerabilities to violence and to ensure that sector actors also do not become the perpetrators of, or face violence.

Call for Information and Participation: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Gender Based Violence

WaterAid is creating a practitioner’s best practice resource to help reduce gender based violence (GBV) related to sanitation, hygiene and water (WASH) in development, humanitarian and transitional contexts. The team is interested to be in contact with any organisation or individual who has material or experience to contribute to the resource; and/or may be interested to co-publish the outputs. The research is being funded by the SHARE Consortium.

The research team are keen to hear from anyone who is interested to contribute to the resource by:

  • Identifying what information / elements would be particularly useful to your organisation
  • Sharing case studies of GBV and WASH; from experience, or from existing documentation
  •  Sharing examples of good practice on programming in relation to GBV and WASH, or examples of programming from other sectors and GBV which could be transferrable to WASH programming or the training of sector professionals
  •  Sharing good practice on ways to respond to incidences of GBV in low-income contexts, including any examples of processes where WASH professionals have engaged with protection or GBV professionals

To contribute to the research, for further information or to receive the final outputs of the research please contact (copying in both email addresses):

Related web site: WaterAid – Gender