TORONTO – A large inflatable toilet, 4.5 metres high, was setup outside the United Nations headquarters Wednesday to bring attention to a global sanitation crisis.
Nov. 19 is World Toilet Day, which highlights the 2.5 billion people around the world who do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets.
The problem of a lack of sanitation is not a laughing matter. Worldwide more people have access to mobile phones than toilets.
According to the International Telecommunication Union 6.8 billion people have a mobile device, compared to the 2.5 billion without access to toilets or latrines.
For this year’s theme the U.N. chose “Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation.” This lack of access to toilets means women and girls forced to defecate in the open face a higher risk of sexual violence.
“We have a moral imperative to end open defecation and a duty to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility,” said U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.
The issue of sexual violence against women in India has made this year’s campaign especially high-profile.
According to The Associated Press, there is a rape committed in India every 22 minutes.
The brutal rape and murder of two teenage sisters age 14 and 15 in rural India happened when the two girls went into the fields because there was no toilet in their home.
India’s prime minister raised the lack of sanitation issue at a U.N.-sponsored event in New York during the annual General Assembly of world leaders in September.