Sexual harassment falls in Pakistan as sanitation improves

Sexual harassment falls in Pakistan as sanitation improves
Women fetch water in Pakistan. YouTube video

Bad sanitation can lead to sexual harassment in the Third World. Such abuse is diminishing due to improvements in sanitation in Pakistan, where 44.3 million people have gained access to clean sources of water in recent years. The Christian Science Monitor described recently how lack of access to clean water facilitates sexual abuse:

In Pakistan, lack of access to sanitary facilities and clean water can hinder the simplest of daily tasks…low-income women say they often run the risk of being sexually harassed when fetching water of when they are forced to openly defecate.

For Allah Wasai, a woman living in a makeshift settlement of tents…harassment was a daily occurrence when she did household work. ‘I used to fetch water for washing, cooking, and drinking from a canal. The harassers used to annoy me along the way,’ she says…Rohina Bibi, another woman from the tent settlement, says that she was grabbed by men swimming in the canal when she went to collect water.

Ms. Wasai’s and Ms. Bibi’s situations are not uncommon in Pakistan…20 percent of the country’s poorest citizens do not have access to clean water close to their homes.

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But as more and more poor people there gain access to clean water in or near their homes, people’s health is improving. Sexual harassment of women is also diminishing somewhat, as fewer women need to pass through dangerous areas to fetch water, due to having access to it closer to home.

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is a retired attorney and author, who writes about politics.