Indian magistrate orders man to 'sell his wife if he can't afford a toilet'

'If that is the case then go and sell your wife,' says official

Maya Oppenheim
Tuesday 25 July 2017 13:24 BST
The magistrate to have made the comments during an event promoting a nationwide cleanliness campaign
The magistrate to have made the comments during an event promoting a nationwide cleanliness campaign (AFP)

An Indian official has reportedly urged villagers who do not have enough money to build toilets in their homes to sell their wives to make some extra money.

Kanwal Tanuj, a magistrate from the district of Bihar, is said to have made the comments during an event promoting the country's nationwide cleanliness campaign on Friday.

The Clean India Mission, which is also known as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, is a scheme launched by the Government of India to clean the country’s 4,041 statutory cities and towns.

Mr Tanuj is believed to have begun his speech by calling for those gathered to obey the campaign’s sanitation standards in order to safeguard the dignity of women.

"Save the dignity of your women if you can. How poor are you?" the Indian Express quoted Mr Tanuj as telling the audience.

But when a man said he did not have enough spare cash to install a toilet at his home, the District Magistrate reportedly replied: "If that is the case then go and sell your wife."

He continued: “If this is the mentality you have then go and sell your wife. So many people talk about advance payment, they get advance and then spend it on useless things.”

A clip of his speech has since gone viral on social media.

But Mr Tanuj has now claimed it was a “distorted version” of his speech which was prompting controversy.

"It's a distorted version of my speech that is being highlighted. The entire speech was an appeal to the men about the respect of ladies and not about showing disrespect," he told PTI.

Shrawan Kumar, the minister for Rural Development in the area whose department is part of the effort to build a toilet in every household in the state, has condemned his purported comments.

"Everybody associated with the task of inspiring citizens to build toilets at home should hold their tongue," Mr Kumar said.

"We need to make people aware of the advantages of toilets and also tell them about the problems associated with its absence to inspire them to go for constructing toilet and not make such abrasive comment”.

The Bihar government pledged to make the state open defecation-free by 2019 earlier this year. The scheme includes a 12,000-rupee subsidy to help families which qualify to build toilets at home.

The nationwide Clean India Mission was launched by the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in 2014. It is India's most far-reaching cleanliness scheme with three million government employees, school and college students from across the subcontinent taking part.

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