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‘When I Sleep, I Hug A Dead Body’: Why Cloth Is Still Not Considered As A Basic Need Of Our Country?

While we talk about hundred odd social development issues, ranging from global warming to food security, how come cloth is never a part of these dialogues, despite being the very first basic human need

While we talk about hundred odd social development issues, ranging from global warming to food security, how come cloth is never a part of these dialogues, despite being the very first basic human need.

“We need a flood today to be flooded with the basic need, called cloth. Years back we started talking about cloth as the basic need- ‘roti, kapra, makaan’. People tend to give away the clothes when they have it and do not need it”, said Anshu Gupta, founder of a non profit organisation, Goonj.

On the sidelines of Women Economic Forum 2017, Anshu shared a disturbing story of a girl who used to hug the dead body during winters to escape the capital chill. Roaming on the streets of Delhi, Anshu spotted an auto driver who used to collect the unclaimed dead bodies of people across the city, as a full-time job.

“The auto driver had a little daughter called banno, who gave the most shocking statement of my life saying, ‘when I feel cold; I hug the dead body and sleep. It doesn’t trouble or terror me’. For us clothing is not a subject, winters are not a disaster because we are a part of that 10-15 per cent privileged population”, shares Anshu.

Anshu started working a few years back to make clothing an issue, especially for women in the country and today is popularly known as the ‘Clothing man of India’. He worked relentlessly to remove the word ‘charity’ which is related to the second-hand material, for the majority of people.

“When a person like you and I say that I want to donate cloth, we object by saying that it is not what you are donating, it is what you are discarding. The charity needs to stop because there is no place in the world where charity sustained and development took place”.

Raising another very important issue of women health and sanitation, Anshu expressed how menstruation is still considered a taboo in the country.

“Every single woman across the globe needs a single piece of cloth called sanitary pad. It’s a culture of shame which you could see in the eyes of even the most educated chemist, who will start to wrap up the packet in a dark black bag, behind the counter”, said Anshu.

Women use the dirtiest piece of cloth during menstruation, as it synonym to the word ‘dirt’ for them. There is no privacy to even take in the bath in the villages, forget washing that piece of cloth, which shockingly is shared amongst the women in the villages. The women would use sand, jute, rugs, rags, newspapers, leaves and anything and everything that can be used to stop and absorb. It’s a shame for a nation which talks of women empowerment all the time at the forefront.

“We have seen cases of women dying of tetanus. In Tamil Nadu, a lady died and the blame came to the mosquito. These are the non-issues of this country. It is high time that we start talking and take actions about these non-issues.

“What is visible is not an issue, what is invisible is the problem we need to address”, ends Anshu.


Tags assigned to this article:
women economic forum food security goonj Anshu Gupta

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