By Arré Bench Dec. 08, 2020
How can a government office not have toilets for its women staff? When will India prioritise sanitation for women?
Shoddy infrastructure at a government agricultural depot in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district claimed the life of a 24-year-old woman employee on Saturday, December 5. The depot had been built without basic amenities, including ramps and toilets. This forced the employees to use toilets in nearby houses, which is what S Saranya was attempting to do when she slipped and fell into a septic tank at a construction site. She worked at the depot as a warehouse manager. When she failed to return to the office, her colleagues went looking for her and rescued her from the septic tank. Saranya was rushed to Kancheepuram Government Hospital but it was too late, and she was declared brought dead.
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) December 8, 2020
The glaring lack of infrastructure at the government office would force all the women employees at the depot to find their own means of using the toilet, and this oversight has now claimed Saranya’s life. Speaking to The Quint, Saranya’s father Shanmugan, said, “I can’t believe her dreams will never be realised. I can’t believe she is gone because there was no toilet. I cannot express my anguish.” Saranya’s family staged a protest outside Kancheepuram Government Hospital, demanding compensation for their loss, as well as a government job for one member of the family.
Woman Govt staff at Kancheepuram died after she fell into a septic tank at a house. The govt office was built recently without toilets. Staffs had to use the toilets in the houses nearby @NewIndianXpress @xpresstn #swachhbharat @SwachhBharatGovhttps://t.co/hRQKTPUUZC
— Novinston Lobo (@NovinstonLobo) December 8, 2020
Kancheepuram’s District Collector has ordered a probe into the incident. According to a report by The News Minute, the Tamil Nadu state government has allotted ₹90 crore for renovating the agricultural depots. In the same report, state Agricultural Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi is quoted saying “The government last year instructed the officials to check the sanitation in the depots. However, most of the depots have the infrastructure and wherever there are no toilets, the district officials are instructed to ramp up the infrastructure so that such issues do not happen.”
“A 24-year-old employee at a government office in Tamil Nadu ended up dead due to the lack of toilets at her office”. OMG. And when basic needs are sought to be tackled there is derision
— bhatnaturally 🇮🇳 (@bhatnaturally) December 8, 2020
Saranya’s tragic death is an urgent reminder of how India’s sorry sanitation infrastructure impacts women more severely than men.