Some 85% of the rural households in the state, one of India's poorest, have no access to a toilet. More than half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation. Many do not have access to flush toilets or other latrines.
There have been a number of recent cases where women and girls have been raped in Bihar after they stepped out of their homes to defecate:
- On May 5, an 11-year-old girl was raped in Mai village in Jehanabad district when she was going to the field at night;
- On April 28, a young girl was abducted and raped when she had gone out to defecate in an open field in Kalapur village in Naubatpur, 21 miles from the state capital, Patna;
- On April 24, another girl was raped in similar circumstances on a farm in Chaunniya village in Sheikhpura district. She told the police that two villagers had followed and raped her. One of them has been arrested.
Senior police official Arvind Pandey said that about 400 women would have "escaped" rape last year if they had toilets in their homes. The Bihar government says it plans to provide toilets to more than 10 million households in the state by 2022 under a federal scheme. A law making toilets mandatory has been introduced in several states as part of the "sanitation for all" drive by the Indian government.