Twenty women in the 55-60 years age group raced with a lota (a pot of water) today to send a message that they would ensure their daughters-in-law don’t have to defecate in the open — something they did all their lives.
The race in Phanda village adjoining Bhopal was organised by the district administration to mark the village getting an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) tag.
The race, titled Swachhta Run, had 20 participants who ran in two groups of 10 each. From the 20 participants, 10 were shortlisted who took part in the final race.
Once past the finish line, they threw the lota, signifying that their compulsion to go to fields to defecate is now over.
The participants’ daughters-in-law congratulated them with garlands and also pledged not to defecate in the open.
Radha Prajapati, Manju Prajapati and Arpita Prajapati won the first, second and third place on the podium, respectively. Their daughters-in-law put medals around their necks.
Devbai, one of the women who took part in the race, said, “We told our daughters-in-law that we faced a lot of hardship but you should not.”
Rajanbai, another participant, said she enjoyed the race as it is for a good cause.
The administration had made arrangements for medical attention in case of any emergency.
Vikas Mishra, Chief Executive Officer, Bhopal Zila Panchayat, said, “It was to showcase their resolve not to let their daughters-in-law do whatever they had been doing all their lives.” He said people should use toilets and motivate others to do the same.
All 187 gram panchayats in Bhopal district have been declared open-defecation free and people have toilets inside their homes, but some people continue to defecate in the open primarily because many of the toilets are not fit for use and lack water supply.
Open defecation, besides its impact on public hygiene and environment, also exposes women to the dangers of sexual violence.