A government campaign to stop open defecation in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been criticised for using humiliation to change behaviour. Journalist M. Poornima writes that the ambitious scheme called ‘Maryada Abhiyan’ (Hindi for dignity), “gives little of it to women”.
From catcalls to publishing names to photographing the people caught — the government booklet  suggests a number of measures meant to humiliate people. That it would hit women the hardest is not a thought that appears to have occurred to the authorities.
The criticism is backed up by WaterAid programme officer Binu Arickal, who called whistling at or photographing women practising open defecation “foolish”. This reflects a discussion started at the beginning of this year on community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and human rights in the SuSanA Forum, which was sparked by a journal article  by Jamie Bartram and others.
UNICEF contributed to the Maryada campaign booklet. The campaign’s brand ambassador is Anita Narre, the bride from a Madhya Pradesh who sparked a “sanitation revolution” in her village by forcing her husband to build a toilet in their home.
 Madhya Pradesh. State Water and Sanitation Mission (2012?). Maryada Abhiyan: guideline. Available at: <http://washurl.net/42kkyn>
 Bartram, J. … [et al.] (2012). Commentary on community-led total sanitation and human rights: Should the right to community-wide health be won at the cost of individual rights?. Journal of water and health, 10(4), pp. 499–503. doi: 10.2166/wh.2012.205. Available at: <http://washurl.net/56qm77>
Related web sites:
- Madhya Pradesh. State Water and Sanitation Mission
- India. Ministry of Water and Sanitation – Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan
- IDS – Community-Led Total Sanitation
Source: M. Poornima, No ‘maryada’ for women in MP govt’s sanitation drive, Hindustan Times, 24 Dec 2013