Married in 2001, Rinku and Jaygobinda Mondal were living peacefully until two years ago in the Majdia Village of West Bengal's Nadia District. It was then that the husband started having suspicions about his wife's loyalty as he began to feel that she was spending far longer in the fields when out to relieve herself.
"He started asking me questions like why I had taken so long to get back, why had I gone twice in the day, etc. And then, the whole atmosphere in the house changed as he started having doubts that I was having an affair with somebody," 30-year-old Rinku told PTI. Her house was among those which had no toilets.
Minor arguments between the couple had soon turned into a full-blown marital dispute as her husband, who works as a daily wage labourer, started getting violent under the influence of liquor.
"I could not tolerate it when he started beating me. One day, I fled the house and went to stay with my mother," she said.
The matter soon landed in Calcutta High Court.
Lawyer Kakali Chatterjee said Rinku filed a case last year against her husband alleging domestic violence under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
However, trying to find a way out of the crisis in their marriage, the couple realised before long that it was a toilet which would be the perfect solution for them; building on in their house would bring down the wall between them. The age-old practice of open defecation had proven to be the 'villain' of the piece, they realised.
Taking advantage of the 'Sobar Souchaghar', or 'Toilets for All' scheme launched by the Nadia District administration, they now have had a toilet built inside their own compound, free of cost.
"It was all because I had to walk for few minutes to find a safe and private place for toilet. As we eliminated open defecation, we also eliminated our family problems. It's been a year since the toilet was constructed and now we are living happily once again," Rinku said with a smile.
Nadia has now been declared an 'open-defecation free' district after the district administration undertook construction of lakhs of toilets and ensured that people start using them.
District Magistrate PB Salim said, besides being responsible for spreading diseases, open defecation creates a number of problems for women who have to scour open fields looking for a safe and private place to use as a loo.
"Our audit says that 99.8 per cent people in the district are now using toilets. Our main focus has been towards bringing about behavioural change so that using toilets becomes a habit for everyone," he said.
Asadur Rahman, state head of UNICEF, says Nadia is an exceptional case and an example for everyone looking to see how India can achieve its target of eliminating open defecation by 2019.