Tribal woman risks marriage for a toilet

Bhopal/Betul: A tribal woman from Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, who almost "risked" her marriage over sanitary facilities has not only emerged as the role model for the cause but also become a brand ambassador for the cleanliness drive.

Anita Narre`s insistence on having a toilet at her in-law`s place not only compelled her husband to take up the issue with Panchayat at his native in Jheetudhana in Betul district but also made Sulabh International adopt Anita`s village for its "Total Cleanliness Drive".

"We have decided to award Rs five lakh to Anita for taking a bold initiative and risking her marriage for the sake of a toilet," Sulabh`s Chairman Dr Bindeshwar Pathak told PTI over phone from New Delhi.

"This will definitely motivate other Indian girls, specially in villages, to ensure that when their parents marry them off they must see that there is a toilet at their in-laws place," said Pathak who will soon publish a book on toilets in 24 languages. He would provide five copies each of the book to all the panchayats of the country.

When 23-year-old Anita got married to Shivram Narre on May 13, 2011, she got the shock of her life as there was no toilet at her in-law`s place.

As there were hardly any lavatories in the village,  the villagers would go to open field to relieve themselves.  Anita returned to her parent`s house in semi-urban Chincholi barely two days after staying at her in-law`s place. When Shivram went to his in-laws place, it was his turn to get the shock of the life as Anita flatly refused to go back with him on the ground that there is no toilet in his house. "I told him categorically that unless he constructs a toilet in his house, I will not go back with him," Anita said.

Disappointed Shivram returned to his village and raised the matter with the local panchayat following which it decided to help him in constructing the toilet at his residence.

Once that happened, Anita, who had put her marriage at stake for the sake of a toilet returned happily with him. Today, Anita is not only the cynosure of all in her village but also become an icon in the eyes of the district administration.

Betul Collector Chandrashekhar Borkar said the administration has decided to name her as the Brand Ambassador for the Total Sanitation Campaign aimed at constructing proper toilets and maintaining hygiene in the villages and towns.