New Delhi: While the Badaun gang-rape incident has brought into focus the issue of providing toilets, the Home Ministry has asked state governments and UTs to give priority to setting up clean and secure lavatories for women police personnel at work place.
In a letter, the Ministry told the states and Union Territories to construct toilets and rest rooms for women personnel on "priority" basis in the state action plan for 2014-15 as it is a long pending basic amenity.
According to official data, there were 84,479 women police personnel, accounting for five per cent of the force in January 2012.
"At existing police stations, outposts and barracks, a provision must be made for suitable facilities for women police personnel including separate hand washing and shower facilities with adequate supply of water.
"Wherever it is not possible to provide access to permanent toilets, portable toilets need to be provided for. These must be installed securely and be provided with lockable doors, lighting and ventilation," said the letter sent by Secretary (Border Management) in the Home Ministry Sneh Lata Kumar, five days before the Narendra Modi government took charge.
Modi too has stressed on the need to construct toilets.
"Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya` (toilet first, temple later), Modi had said at a function organised here for the youth.
Two teenaged girls, who were gang raped and murdered in Uttar Pradesh`s Badaun May 27, were forcibly taken away by the accused when the girls had gone to relieve themselves as there was no toilet at home.
The bodies of the two girls were found hanging from a tree a day after they went missing. The incident has sparked nation-wide outrage and demands to focus on providing toilets in the country, where the highest number of (597 million) people defecate in open.
The Home Ministry said police work requires long working hours and involves outdoor activities such as patrolling, security duty on several occasions, touring in and outside the district and states.
It is difficult for women police officials to keep a balance between household essential duties and professional activities without a robust organisational and infrastructural support by the government for a stress-free working environment, it said.
The Ministry said rest room needs to be separate from other parts of the workplace and it should be clean, secure and located at a convenient place close to other facilities such as washing and toilet.
The room and the toilet should reasonably be accessible to the women police officials so that their security is not compromised and the rest room should be big enough to be used as a changing room by the women personnel.
Provision of the above amenities may be ensured in every new police station, outpost or barracks proposed under the modernisation of police force or otherwise, the Ministry said.