Poor toilet access contributes to the spike in sexual violence against women in India, a study has found.
Approva Jadhav, a researcher from the University of Michigan who co-authored the study said, “open defecation places women at uniquely higher risk of type of sexual violence: non-partner.”
After examining data from the Indian National Family Health Survey with figures obtained from 75,000 women on accessibility to toilets in their homes and encounters with violence, the researchers revealed that preceding sanitation studies had not established a link between access to sanitation facilities and sexual violence in India.
The researchers found that women without access to “household toilets” were twice more likely to experience sexual violence than those who did.
“Women who use open defecation sites such as open fields or the side of a railway track are twice as likely to get raped when compared with women using a home toilet,” the study read.
Access to sanitation facilities will ensure a safer environment for women, the study posited. “Our findings provide further rationale for NGO’s and the Indian government to expand sanitation programs, and raise new questions about the potentially protective role of sanitation facilities in other contexts beyond India,” the study stated.
“This is an urgent need that cannot be ignored anymore. We need more than anecdotes to bring a policy change,” Jadhav told NDTV.
The link between India’s sanitation crisis and rising sexual violence became conspicuous in 2014 after two girls were raped and killed in Uttar Pradesh while heading to defecate in the open.
This article originally appeared on RT.