In Rural India, Mr Right Must Have a Toilet
Brides-to-be insist suitors offer indoor plumbing
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2009 7:17 AM CDT
Indian Hindu women dance on the last day of the festival of Durga Puja, in Calcutta, India, Monday, Sept. 28, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – India's economy may be booming, but 665 million people in the world's second-largest nation have no access to indoor plumbing—not only an inconvenience, but a health hazard that leads to diarrhea, typhoid, and malaria. But these days, newly assertive rural women are insisting that suitors have a toilet before they give their hand in marriage, as well as their substantial dowries. One 18-year-old girl, still single, repeated a jingle she heard on the radio: "No loo, no 'I do.'"

While previous programs have failed, "No Toilet, No Bride" has worked by making indoor plumbing a central feature of courtship—slogans exhort men to install latrines, while popular soap operas have included the campaign in their plots. "I won't let my daughter near a boy who doesn't have a latrine," said one mother. "My father never even allowed me an education. Now, young women have power. The men can't refuse us."