Abstract

By the end of the Millennium Development Goal’s target year, 2015, India had been declared as a country, which has made moderate progress in terms of improvement in basic sanitation provision for all. Yet open defecation is still a regular practice of a significant proportion of the population in both urban and rural areas. The Indian government has been trying to address this problem for the last three decades through different programmes. However, though the effort is laudable, in reality, the countrywide situation is not so praiseworthy. Lack of sanitation provisions affects people in different ways with different intensities along the lines of class, gender, age, disability, and marginality. In Darjeeling city, due to lack of proper sanitation facilities, a significant portion of the population uses public toilets, which are less in number compared to the demand. People face a variety of difficulties and hurdles in using public toilets, and as a result, continue to practice open defecation during the night and early morning. Among the users, women and adolescent girls suffer more than the others. Moreover, in this city, a significant portion of the population faces acute water crisis during the dry months. This empirical study tries to explore the different ways through which women and adolescent girls are affected by the lack of safe sanitation facilities within the house premises. The article also argues that lack of sanitation provision should be considered as a matter of violence against women and adolescent girls because the situation makes them vulnerable to the risk of being violated or sexually abused.