One in three women around the world are victims of violence at least once in their lifetime.

The connections between toilets and violence against women may not initially be obvious. 

Consider a woman without access to a toilet in her home. When travelling to and from public toilets, using the toilet, or venturing from her home to defecate openly, she is vulnerable to violence. This vulnerability is becoming increasingly recognized and described. 

Women experiencing regular discrimination from men, express constant fear of assault or rape when having to leave the house to use the toilet. Reports of attacks or harassment near or in toilet facilities, as well as near or in areas where women defecate openly, are not uncommon. The consequences of such violence against women are both physical and psychological for the victim, and extend to families and communities that persist to live with gender based inequalities and lost economical potential of victims. 

You might remember the two young girls from Uttar Pradesh India raped and murdered in 2014 while looking for a toilet. While it is important to recognize that lack of access to toilets was not the cause of this violence, not having a safe place to go to the toilet facilitated the violent act. 

It is our duty to protect vulnerable women from experiences of gender-based violence. Universal access to safe toilets has a clear role to play in defending women’s safety and dignity.