No toilet, no bride – but what happens after the party?

If you don’t have a toilet at home, you might not get a bride in India. In a silent revolution of sorts, Indian women across the country, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, have a single condition before they agree to a match – the groom must have a toilet in his home.

The “No Toilet, No Bride” campaign, initiated by the government, is co-opting young women to bring in much-needed social change. Across the country, more people have access to mobile phones than to toilets.

Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, one of the NGOs involved in the campaign, says it has succeeded in certain areas. “Lack of basic hygiene at present is very much a marginalised farmer’s practice,” she says. “There are affluent communities with land and concrete houses who are now building toilets.”

An interesting campaign, but question is what happens after the bride’s purchasing power is greatly (completely) reduced, ie. after marriage? Installing toilets (especially where central plumbing is not available) is not a one-off thing, but requires a long-term construction and maintenance (of course you could argue the same for marriages, but well, that’s not what happens all the time)…

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