May 22, 2013 – With This Toilet I Thee Wed: A mass wedding ceremony organized by the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh featured an unusual vow. To take part, grooms had to prove their homes had toilets. Pictured above, people watched as brides took part in a mass marriage ceremony in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, May 13.
The requirement for Monday’s ceremony, which involved 184 couples, is part of a state initiative to ensure that women in the district of Sehore have a toilet at home.
According to data from the latest census, 68% of households in Sehore don’t have a toilet or a public one nearby, meaning that families have to defecate in the open.
To increase the chances that young women marry into homes with access to sanitation, the Madhya Pradesh government issued a ruling that any groom wanting to get married under its special initiative had to have a toilet at home, or commit to installing one within a month of marriage, said Rajiv Khare, a government official in Sehore.
The initiative – “Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana” – was launched in 2006 to help young women from poor families marry, according to officials involved.
Under MKY, families organize a match between their children but the state covers the costs of the wedding and gifts for the groom’s family, which are traditionally provided by the bride’s parents. Officials weren’t immediately able to say how much the program has cost but it provides each newlywed couple with goods worth 13,000 rupees ($236). The goods include a gas connection, beds and cupboards, but not toilets.
In 2011, the government decided to tackle the toilet problem.
Now many grooms are taking pictures of themselves with their toilets and sending them to the local officials to ensure their place on the program, Mr. Khare said.
This year, 1,762 couples have married in mass ceremonies under the MKY, according to K.P. Tripathi, deputy director of social justice in Sehore.
The 2001 census found that 63.1% of homes lacked a toilet. In 2011, 53.1% of households were still in that position. And you thought you had it bad. Click the link below for the complete story.
The Master of Disaster