Slum Dog Millionaire: How Sexual Violence against Women is linked to Water and Sanitation in Delhi
by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, TSR Founder & Publisher
August 11, 2012 (TSR) – Due to rising population and harsh realities birthed from the culture of greed, the number of slum dwellers in many areas of the world have increased. Slums always lack basic necessities of Life clean water, electricity and sanitation.
In India alone, the slum population is constantly increasing: it has doubled in the past two decades. The current population living in slums in the country is more than the population of Britain. Many of the slum inhabitants are mostly rickshaw puller, seasonal small vendors, house maid servants with a family income ranging from a meager Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3000.
Here’s a little snapshot of India’s largest slums:
Dharavi Slum, Mumbai: Dharavi, also known as “The Dream City”, is one of many slum areas in city of Mumbai and holds the biggest population in India. Considered as Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, is spread over an area of 1.75 km along the Mahim river in central Mumbai.
Dharavi Slum, Mumbai
Bhalswa Slum, Delhi: ”The Heart of India” Slum population amounts to 20% of the total population of Delhi. It also has the largest child labours. This slum is close to the bank of Yamuna River. Note: Slum dwellers from various parts of Delhi have been resettled to Bhalswa. Delhi Government has been working and thinking to launch a survey to prepare a data base of slum dwellers in the city to help them.
Bhalswa Slum, Delhi.
Nochikuppam Slum, Chennai: “The City of Flyovers” has Nochikuppam slum with 1,300 huts, where around 5 thousand people live below poverty level and they don’t have enough money for two meals a day.
Nochikuppam Slum, Chennai.
Basanti Slum, Kolkata: “The City of Joy”, Kolkata’s major slum area is Basanti. In 2011, it has one third of Kolkata’s population that is registered and 3500 unregistered slums.
Basanti Slum, Kolkata
Rajendra Nagar Slum, Bangalore: “The Garden City” Bangalore alone holds 570 slums which makes a total of around 2000 slums in the entire State. It is estimated that about 20% of Bangalore population reside in slums. The families living in the slum are not ready to move into the temporary shelters, saying it is unjust and risky to live under a flyover.
Rajendra Nagar Slum, Bangalore
Indiramma Nagar, Hyderabad: “The City of Nizam” has circa 624,689 people who live in slum area of Hyderabad. There is very little land available for all the people who live in the 104 identified and 24 unidentified slums in Hyderabad.
Indiramma Nagar, Hyderabad
Saroj Nagar Slum, Nagpur: “The Orange city” Nagpur has 424 legal slum areas and Sarojnagar is just one of the 424 slums in the city. In Nagpur, approximately 40 % of the population live in slums. These slums are home to over 1,42,000 people and cover about 1,600 hectares of prime land. Due to struggle for land in Maharashtra, this makes the second largest slum area in Nagpur after Dharavi Mumbai.
Saroj Nagar Slum, Nagpur
Mehbullahpur Slum, Lucknow: “The City of Nawabs” Lucknow’s population includes large numbers of poor people, many of whom live in slums. 20,000 persons live in 22 of the 460 slums in Lucknow City. Many people migrated to Lucknow from the different part of the nearest district for daily wages.
Mehbullahpur Slum, Lucknow
Satnami Nagar Slum, Bhopal: “The City of Lakes” Bhopal has many slums area, and Satnami Nagar is one of the oldest slums in Bhopal. Ruhal Nagar and Shanti Nagar are the first two slums area in Bhopal to be declared ‘open-defecation’. Peoples of Bhopal live on the streets and these slums provide them shelter and other facility to survive.
Data from the country’s 2011 census shows 59% of Indian households have a mobile phone. Only 47% have a toilet on the premises (and that includes pit latrines that don’t use running water).
Limited access to toilets is a major problem for developing countries, putting drinking water for millions of people at risk. India has the worst of the problem. With 626 million people who practice “open defecation,” the country has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined.
Here’s a list of the top 10 countries facing this challenge, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
- India (626 million people who “practice open defecation”)
- Indonesia (63 million)
- Pakistan (40 million)
- Ethiopia (38 million)
- Nigeria (34 million)
- Sudan (19 million)
- Nepal (15 million)
- China (14 million)
- Niger (12 million)
- Burkina Faso (9.7 million)
Satnami Nagar Slum, Bhopal
Parivartan Slum, Ahmadabad: Approximately 440000 people live in slums within the city. Ahmadabad is home to a large population of poor peoples living on the river banks. River side slums in Ahmadabad are about 40 yr old.
Parivartan Slum, Ahmadabad
STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART TO THE HEART
At the societal and cultural level, most of the men spend their daily earnings on homemade illicit liquor after a hard and low-earning working day, leaving women and children to fend for themselves.
In India, the status of women and girls who live and grow up from slum neighborhoods are usually stigmatized and considered not respectful in many societies. Hopelessness and desperation drive many, more often from the pressure of their own families and peers (in addition to the glorification of materialism in media around the world), to do prostitution to fulfill their basic needs to survive.
Majority of the victimized members of our societies that remain unprotected are the women and children that barely are there national and international laws to do so. Hence, the overwhelming human sex trafficking and slavery (of girls even as young as 6-7 years old) coming out many struggling economies that criminals take advantage that we must combat together.
The poorest of the poor are usually the most gullible to the ‘carrot stick’ manipulation of those who lust for power, with the assistance of savvy public relations, pretending to be ‘hero’. Protection” for the most part is usually lipservice and campaign empty promises. It is usually agendas and politics that takes precedence, over Humanity’s betterment and good.
There are many layers in women’s and girl’s rights that needs to be addressed. Perhaps we can start with providing the basic necessities to give people back their dignity, and in doing so, they empower them from within and in their communities.
For instance, Indian girls under ten have been raped while on their way to use a public toilet, according to the women living in Delhi’s slums. In one slum, boys hid in toilet cubicles at night waiting to rape those who entered.
The link between a lack of access to water and sanitation facilities and sexual violence against women is not well known and to date has received insufficient attention.
These are just some of the incidents mentioned in this 15-page briefing note, Fear and anger: perceptions of risks related to sexual violence against women linked to water and sanitation in Delhi, India. This document, a research supported by WaterAid and the DFID-funded SHARE (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity) project, written by Shirley Lennon highlights this link within the context of urban slums in Delhi and suggests how this problem can be addressed.
I think it is worth studying and perhaps can generate ideas in tackling one of the seriously complicated issues in developing nations around the world. The world would become a different place if we simply care, listen and do what is right dictated by our hearts and souls, instead of entertaining too many petty differences and selfish agendas.