Wife Can Dump Hubby Who Won't Install Toilet: Judge

Forcing Indian woman to defecate outside after dark is a form of torture, court finds
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2017 7:33 AM CDT
Judge: Woman Can Divorce Over Lack of Toilet
Shakuntala Tanwar poses in October 2015 next to a toilet in her house in in Haryana, India. Tanwar was the first villager to get a toilet provided by the Indian organization Sulabh International.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

An Indian woman can divorce her husband because he refused to install a toilet in their home, the BBC reports, with a judge in the northwestern state of Rajasthan finding on Friday that forced outdoor defecation is a form of torture and that the woman, who is in her 20s, has a right to a toilet. The judgment noted that women in Indian villages often "wait until sunset to answer nature's call. This is not only physical cruelty" but a violation of "the modesty of a woman," per the Times of India. It can also be dangerous after dark. Outdoor defecation in India is a major health threat that has prompted a government campaign to ensure an indoor toilet in every household by 2019. The woman's husband said an indoor toilet was not an issue when the couple married five years ago.

But the woman's lawyer said he refused repeated demands, prompting her to file for divorce two years ago. The judge noted that people spend money "buying tobacco, liquor and mobile phones, but are unwilling to construct toilets to protect the dignity of our family." Calls to install toilets have been met with resistance in India by people who consider them unnecessary and expensive. One local official made headlines last year when he told men to "sell their wives" if they can't afford a toilet, per Indian Express. About 564 million people, half the population of India, defecate in the open, producing some 100,000 tons of feces daily that can cause disease, per Unicef. Diarrhea kills about 400 Indian children under 5 each day. (A TV reporter was charged after pooping on someone's lawn.)

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